Charles Whitney Coombs studied piano with Speidel, theory and composition with Seifritz, and also modern languages and literature. In 1883 he was in Italy and Switzerland, and in 1884 went to Dresden, where his teachers were Draeseke for composition, Janssen for organ, Hermann John for instrumentation and Lamperti for voice. He made long visits to Paris and London and from 1887-1891 he was organist at the American Church in Dresden. He returned to the US and from 1892-1908 he was organist at the Church of the Holy Communion and at at St. Luke's in New York City. His compositions include the vocal works, various songs, hymns, and cantatas.