Charles Bratt (1914 - 2014)

13 entries | 2 photos
  • "Over 55 years ago, I wandered into St. Michael's looking..."
    - Kathy Fong
  • "Dr. Bratt was one of the most inspirational and guiding..."
    - Debby Mills-Peckham
  • "Dear Mary and Family, I am so sorry to learn of Griff's..."
    - Bart Chaffee
  • "I was so saddened today to read of Dr. Bratt's passing. He..."
    - Mark Wilson
  • "Griff and Mary were foundational in my life and music...."
    - Greg Bishop
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Charles Griffith Bratt
November 21, 1914 - April 20, 2014
Dr. C. Griffith Bratt was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where music, professional baseball or business careers vied for his direction in life. Following three years at John Hopkins University majoring in business, music won, pulling him to attend Peabody Music Conservatory where he received a four-year scholarship. There he was awarded the coveted "Artist Diploma" for "Outstanding Performance" in organ and received his diploma and Master's degree in Organ with emphasis in Choral Conducting and Composition.
While attending Peabody he met his love and constant companion, Mary Edna Wallis, who majored in piano and voice performance. They married on September 8, 1937 while completing their degrees. They have been married for over 76 wonderful blessed years and raised four children.
Griff, as he preferred to be called, served several years in the US Navy during the end of World War II. His rank was Specialist W 2nd Class, Chaplain's Assistant and Organist. After the war he served as church organist and choral director at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Baltimore and Luther Place in Washington D.C.
In 1946 following his service in the Navy he accepted from the president of Boise Jr. College, Dr. Eugene B. Chaffee, the Chair of the Music Department upon the promise of getting a premier Austin pipe organ. It was just a few years later that the funding came from the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation enabling the installation in the early 1950's. For five years, KBOI radio hosted Sunday afternoon live organ recitals with Griff caressing the keys and pedaling great music to the Valley audience.
Griff was also offered the position of organist and choral director at St. Michael's Episcopal Cathedral. In the early 1960's he was instrumental in securing the Schlicker Organ at the Cathedral... one of the premier organs in the northwest. The Idaho Statesman recognized him as a distinguished citizen with a portrait by John Collias. He served for 30 years form 1946 - 1976 assisting the change of BJC to Boise College, Boise State College and finally to Boise State University. Upon his retirement in 1976 from BSU he continued his work at St. Michael's Episcopal Cathedral, completing 52 years as choral director and organist in 1998.
Postdoctoral work took him to the University of Utah in the early 1950's where he achieved work in composition under Dr. Leroy Robertson. In 1967 he was given an Honorary Music Doctorate from Northwest Nazarene University.
He wore many hats, teaching organ, music theory, composition, counterpoint, keyboard harmony, choir (Meistersingers), improvisation, administration, concertizing (throughout the US and in England), and composing. His hobbies were fishing, camping, reading mysteries and Civil War history.
Instrumental in organ reform in Boise, the Northwest and the US, he instituted the American Guild of Organist Chapter in Boise which remains strong to this day.
As an outstanding American composer he has completed over 650 works, including several symphonies, string quartets, piano trio, cello sonata, many organ and choral works for church, along with four historical operas. Composing music was a very deep passion until the last few weeks of his life. Many of his organ and choral church works have been prepared and published.
Griff was a man of strong Christian faith. His work demonstrated his faith and his calling. His legacy is ongoing leaving behind many students and friends who have been enriched and challenged by his teaching. As one student wrote:
Bratt Taught...
...Bratt Taught:
With Knowledge, With Know-how
With Wisdom, With Will,
With Passion, With Patience,
With Spirit, With Skill;
With Feeling, With Fairness,
With Ardor, With Art,
With Relish, With Reason,
With Honor, With Heart.
We Listened, We Learned,
We Garnered, We Grew....
We Knew!.... All Because
Bratt Taught.
(Fred Ghertler)
Griff is survived by his beautiful wife, partner, supporter, and page turner; four children, Barbara Steffens; Wallis and Connie Bratt; Gary and Donna Bratt; and Stephan and Kathleen Bratt; 22 grandchildren; 11 great grandchildren; and 6 great great grandchildren.
A Celebration of Griff's Life will be held at 1:00 pm, Friday, April 25, 2014 at Emanuel Lutheran Church, 707 W Fort St, Boise. Interment will follow at Dry Creek Cemetery.
"Well done, Good and Faithful Servant."
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family on Griff's memorial webpage at

Published in Idaho Press Tribune on Apr. 23, 2014
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