Born: June 18, 1840, Mönchdorf, Kurhessen, Germany.
Died: April 13, 1927, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Buried: East Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
John was the husband of Susan Shaffer (married circa 1860).
Orphaned in childhood, Kurzenknabe spent part of his early years in Kassel, Germany, attending public and industrial schools.
In 1854, he sailed from Bremen for America. He eventually attended a seminary in Pennsylvania, later studied music under William Bradbury, and was associated for a short time with George Root.
Kurzenknabe traveled extensively throughout the American northeast, and lived at various times in Hagerstown and Baltimore, Maryland; York, Philadelphia, Sunbury, Mercersburg, McConnellsburg, and Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania; Camden and Moorestown, New Jersey; New York City; and in Boston and Dedham, Massachusetts.
He finally settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he wrote songs, taught music, ran a piano and music store, and attended St. John’s Reformed Church. In 1894, he became president of the Pennsylvania State Music Teachers’ Association.