Niagara Falls is among the first places that tourists visit upon reaching Canada. Perhaps you, too, have stood along the misty observation decks or even donned an aquamarine-blue poncho and braved the famous Maid of the Mist to see (and hear) the falls up close.
The site has drawn in many celebrities over the years, including these three well known composers who left their own tweet-sized impressions.
Maurice Ravel, 1928
“What a majestic B-flat!”
Ravel spent several days in Toronto in March of 1928. He expressed his intent on visiting Niagara Falls in an interview with the Toronto Daily Star on March 19, 1928, citing “to get a new theme for composition” as his reason. At his first glance of the falls, Ravel exclaimed, “What a majestic B-flat!”
Gustav Mahler, 1910
“At last, a fortissimo!”
The popular anecdote has Mahler arriving at the falls before conducting in Buffalo, N.Y. Over the great roar of the falls he shouted, “At last, a fortissimo!” But there’s some debate about this one. American writer Alex Ross points out that Mahler made this comment following his conducting performance to suggest that music offers a more profound and overpowering experience than nature itself. Either way, it’s safe to say that the roar of the falls had a strong effect on Mahler.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, 1891
“On the Canadian side I decided that I must not allow myself to be afraid.”
Tchaikovsky made a stop at Niagara Falls en route to New York City in the spring of 1891 and wrote these candid notes in his diary:
“I cannot describe the beauty of the waterfall, because such a thing is difficult to express in words. The beauty and majesty of the spectacle is indeed remarkable. On the Canadian side I decided that I must not allow myself to be afraid, with the changing into very ugly clothes, the descent by lift under the waterfall, walking through a tunnel and, finally, standing under the very falls themselves, which was very interesting, if slightly awful.” (Tchaikovsky-research.net)
Now that we’ve taken a moment to imagine poor Tchaikovsky in an infamous aquamarine-blue poncho, it’s worth noting that these aren’t the only three major musical figures to visit the falls. Others include Dvorak, Rimsky-Korsakov, Offenbach and, most recently, Lang Lang.
Now that you've heard these famous tweet-sized impressions of Niagara Falls, it's your turn. How would you describe the sight and sound of mighty Horseshoe Falls in 140 characters or less?
Benjamin Britten's visit to Canada and US inspired overtures
B minor: The Dark Romantic
Concerts on Demand: Toronto Symphony performs Tchaikovsky and Verdi with Sondra Radvanovsky
on Jul 17, 2012