Griffes, Charles Tomlinson

Griffes, Charles Tomlinson

(grĭf`ĭs), 1884–1920, American composer, b. Elmira, N.Y. A pupil of HumperdinckHumperdinck, Engelbert
, 1854–1921, German composer and teacher. He is known chiefly for his first opera, Hänsel und Gretel (1893), successful because of its fairy-tale subject and its folk-inspired music.
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 in Germany, he returned to the United States in 1907. Among his outstanding larger compositions are The Pleasure-Dome of Kubla Khan (Boston, 1920), for orchestra; his Poem, for flute and orchestra (1918); and Roman Sketches (1915–16), for piano, which includes The White Peacock. His tautly intense piano sonata (1918, pub. 1921) represents his mature style, in which he was free from earlier influences of German romanticism and impressionism and created a uniquely American idiom.

Bibliography

See biography by E. M. Maisel (1943, repr. 1984).

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Griffes, Charles Tomlinson

(1884–1920) composer; born in Elmira, N.Y. After beginning his music studies in the U.S.A., he studied piano and composition in Berlin, returning to the U.S.A. in 1907 to teach in a boys' school in Tarrytown, N.Y., where he remained until his untimely death. Developing slowly and composing painstakingly, he had begun to achieve a highly colorful and personal style in works such as the Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan (1920). He is remembered as the great might-have-been of American music.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.