Niagara Falls in music
Niagara Falls in music. The thundering waterfalls have provoked the imagination of several composers. Of the pieces by European visitors, Niagara (violin and piano ca 1845), by the Norwegian violinist Ole Bull, is perhaps the earliest. The British songwriter Henry Russell wrote a vocal scena 'Mighty Niagara' (words by Charles Mackay), the Polish-French pianist Henri Kowalski the piano piece Aux bords du Niagara (1872), and the German composer Friedrich Wilhelm Tschirch a concert overture Am Niagara (1872). Rimsky-Korsakov visited the falls in 1863 and Offenbach in 1876. Tchaikovsky saw the falls in 1891 and two years later Dvořák stood in silence for some five minutes, as though hypnotized, then exclaimed 'Lord God, this will become a symphony in b minor'. Ravel, who saw the falls in 1928, is said to have exclaimed 'Quel majestueux si bémol!' But none of these famous men was inspired to compose although sketches for the Dvořák piece do exist. Works by US composers include Anthony Philip Heinrich's The War of the Elements and the Thundering of Niagara, a 'capriccio grande' for orchestra (before 1845); George Bristow's Niagara Symphony for voices and orchestra (1898); Harvey Gaul's The Masque of Niagara (1934), which includes 'Thunder of Waters' and 'Indian River Song' sections; and Johan Franco's Rainbow Bridge Nocturne for the Rainbow Tower carillon.
R. Nathaniel Dett, a native of Niagara Falls, Ont, wrote a Cave of the Winds march (1902). John Beckwith's Great Lakes Suite (words by James Reaney, 1949) pauses briefly at the falls. Joseph Roff's suite Niagara (1953) is a musical portrait of the falls and their attendant attractions. More recently James Fusco, another native of Niagara Falls, Ont, subtitled his Symphony No.2 (1984) 'Niagara' and Milton Barnes wrote a symphonic poem Maid of the Mist (1977). Popular music has its share of Niagara polkas, schottisches, and 'souvenirs.' Willie Eckstein wrote 'Where the Niagara Flows' (1933); two pieces share the title A Trip to Niagara, one by train (by Clifford V. Baker, 1905) and one by steamer (by William J. Cornish, ca 1915).