American composer Charles Tomlinson Griffes was born in Elmira, New York on 17 September 1884. He studied piano and organ locally, then spent four years in Berlin, studying composition with Engelbert Humperdinck and piano with Ernst Jedliczka. He taught at a boys school in Tarrytown, New York, for the whole of his professional life.
He wrote White Peacock (for piano, 1915, orchestrated 1919), a Piano Sonata (1917-18, revised 1919), the tone poem The Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan (1912, revised 1916) and Poem for Flute and Orchestra (1918). An unpublished work Sho-ji (1917) - a one act drama in the form of a pantomime - is one of the earliest American works to show direct inspiration from Japanese music.
His large and high quality output is notable for someone who died young (aged thirty-five, of influenza, on 8 April 1920 in New York City).
A selection of M&V articles about Charles Griffes
Ask Alice - On pianists and accompanying, with Classical Music agony aunt Alice McVeigh
Ensemble. A Cross Section - Bill Newman comments on some recent concerts at London's Wigmore Hall
CD Spotlight. Hidden Byways - Ruthanne Schempf plays American piano music, recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... her performances are fresh and immediate ...'
CD Spotlight. Sparkle and Polish - Robin Zebaida plays piano rarities, enjoyed by Bill Newman. '... musical appeal is immediate.'
Record box. The lady smiles - Basil Ramsey plus a duo
Record box - Piano sonorities. Basil Ramsey hears American piano music.