Johanna Kranold Stein
{ "" }
Share Johanna's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
ITHACA - Johanna Kranold Stein died on Friday at her home in Ithaca. Her life ended peacefully after a precipitous decline related to lung cancer.Born in 1927, Johanna spent her early years in a mansion in southeast Germany. Johanna always pronounced her name the German way, with the J sounding like a Y, and the first A sounding like the A in "father." Her mother, Sophie Steinhaus, whose first language was Yiddish, was an art historian and revolutionary, affectionately known as Red Sophie. Johanna's father, Hermann Kranold, was an economist active in the Social Democratic resistance to fascism. He was arrested on the day the Reichstag was burned in 1933, but his uncle Max Planck, the Nobel prize winning physicist, was able to arrange an exile.After several years of temporary teaching positions in London, Hermann secured a permanent position at Talladega College in Alabama, the best black college of the time. Steamer tickets and clothing were contributed by the AFSC (Quakers).In Alabama Sophie had to learn to cook! So her sister Regine, who was among the last Jewish refugees to escape to Britain, taught her to cook through letters sent from London. Sophie's brother Emil was not as fortunate. He and his wife had fled the Nazis and gone into hiding in France, but they were discovered and deported to a death camp shortly before the end of the war.In Talladega Johanna spoke the "schönster slanguage," a mish-mash of German and English, with her family. She attended school in the black part of town, where she sang the Negro National anthem every morning, learned American history from the African American point of view, and learned to jitterbug.When Johanna was 14, her parents died of heart disease. Eventually she settled in Ann Arbor, living in the first generation of cooperative university housing. She earned a Bachelor's and Master's in comparative musicology. These, combined with work experience caring for the mentally ill, led Johanna to develop the field of psychiatric musicology, which she practiced in the D.C. area, at NIH, Chestnut Lodge and St. Elizabeth's Hospital. Her articles have been published in the standard psychiatric journals.Psychiatric musicology is not to be confused with music therapy. Certain mental illnesses can look alike clinically but respond to different medications and treatment methods. Johanna discovered that they can be differentiated by the perceptual errors patients make when they listen to specific configurations of music. Another diagnostic tool devised by Johanna involves detecting distortions in the patient's speaking voice.Johanna also pioneered novel treatment methods for certain chronic schizophrenic patients. She took satisfaction from slowly helping some patients get to the point of making life choices and resuming functioning in society after as many as twenty years of disability.Back surgery at the age of 58 brought an early retirement; heart trouble began the following year. Johanna was an active member of a senior citizen writers' group. Some of her writing can be found at, including descriptions of her life experiences. As long as her health permitted, she was an amateur violist. During the last 14 years, she wrote program notes for concerts given by the McLean Symphony.In August 2005, Johanna moved to Ithaca to be near her daughter Melanie Emile Stein, son-in-law Detlef Smilgies, and grandchildren Max and Mauro. She will be deeply missed.The family would be grateful if condolences were sent through the mail rather than via email or telephone. In lieu of flowers, it was Johanna's wish that donations be made in her name to the two organizations that made it possible for her to immigrate and remain in this country: Talladega College and the American Friends Service Committee.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Ithaca Journal on Jul. 13, 2006.