Charles Tomlinson Griffes

June 2, 2006

griffes.jpgIf you don’t know his music, allow me to introduce you to Charles Tomlinson Griffes (1884 – 1920). I won’t clog up this blog with his bio, if you would like to know more about this fellow, Naxos has a handsome summary. He studied with Englebert Humperdinck (the original one) because at that time an American composer was not considered legitimate unless he studied in Europe. (America still has this unfortunate false idea about conductors.) He has a huge catalog of songs. You’ll hear his German period, a French period, and at the end, there was a marvelous fusion: people called him an American impressionist. He was an excellent pianist, and I don’t think you will be disappointed procuring a CD of his piano music. Griffes was also gay. (He liked policemen. Read “Gay New York” excerpt on CTG). His most famous works are “The White Peacock” and “The Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan” which exist as piano pieces as well as in orchestral versions. My favorite piano pieces are the “Three Fantasy Pieces” and Three Tone Pictures, op.5 (1910-15).

Oh, did I mention that I was a big Griffes fan?

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