Charles Tomlinson Griffes (pronounced GRIFF-iss) was born in Elmira, New York, on September 17, 1884 and died in New York City on April 8, 1920. He was an American composer for piano, chamber ensembles and for voice in a vein of music known as “Musical Impressionism

His sister Katherine gave him his first piano lessons. At the age of fifteen, he began to study with Mary Broughton from England, an instructor at Elmira College, who strongly guided his musical development and financially supported his piano studies in Berlin, Germany beginning in 1903 with Engelbert Humperdinck at the Stern Conservatory. On returning to the U.S. in 1907 he began teaching at the Hackley School for boys in Tarrytown, New York.

He also wrote numerous programmatic pieces for piano, chamber ensembles, and for voice. His pieces include:
“The White Peacock," from Roman Sketches, Op.7, No.1”, “Barcarolle, Op.6, No.1”, “Clouds, Op.7, No.4”, “Nightfall, Al far della note, Op.7, No.2”, “Notturno, Op.6, No.2”, “Scherzo , Op.6, No.3”, “Sonata”, “The Fountain of the Acqua Paola, Op.7, No.3”, “The Lake at Evening, Op.5, No.1”, “The Night Winds, Op.5, No.3”, and “The Vale of Dreams, Op.5, No.2.”

He died of influenza at the age of 35 and is buried in Bloomfield Cemetery in Bloomfield, Essex County, New Jersey. Griffes kept meticulous diaries that chronicled his musical accomplishments from 1907 to 1919, and also dealt honestly with his homosexual lifestyle.


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