Charles Griffes: An American Impressionist

Sudip Bose at The American Scholar:

When composers die prematurely, it’s tempting to imagine what they might have produced had they lived to a riper age. For some musicians, like Mozart or Schubert, the question is moot—each was a mature artist in the full bloom of youth, producing a lifetime’s worth of masterpieces in an astonishingly brief period. But when composers happen to die just when they’re getting started, the question becomes more tantalizing. Consider, for example, the life of Charles Tomlinson Griffes, a man largely—and unjustly—forgotten by the general public today.

Born in 1884 in Elmira, New York, Griffes was a musical late bloomer, fluent instead in the visual arts from an early age. He specialized in watercolors and pen-and-ink drawings and was so talented in the field of copperplate etching that he contemplated making it his livelihood. At the age of 10 or 11, while bedridden with typhoid fever, Griffes listened as his sister Katharine played the piano and decided that he, too, wanted to learn the instrument. At first, his sister gave him lessons.

more here.