Niagara Falls

Tchaikovsky Research

The Niagara Falls are situated on the Niagara River in North America, divided between the twin cities of Niagara Falls in the province of Ontario, Canada, and Niagara Falls in the state of New York, in the United States of America.

Tchaikovsky at Niagara Falls

Tchaikovsky arrived at the Hotel Kaltenbach on the American side of the border at 10 p.m. on 29 April/11 May 1891, and visited the waterfalls the following day, before returning to New York City. He later recorded the event in his diary:

We started by crossing an old bridge to Goat Island. Then we turned to the right, halted, and the driver instructed me to descend to the level of the American Fall. The beauty of the waterfall cannot be described, because such a thing is difficult to express in words. The beauty and majesty of the spectacle is indeed extraordinary. After taking in this part of the waterfall—which is generally divided into several separate falls, of which two are gigantic, especially the second—we travelled to the edge of the Three Sisters islands. This whole walk is fascinating, especially at this time of year. The greenery was fresh with dew, and my favourite dandelions were shining through in the midst of the grass. I terribly wanted to pick a few of these yellow beauties, with their scent of spring freshness, but there were notice boards at every step with a reminder that even the wild flowers must not be plucked. Then I saw the main waterfall, the Horse Shoe Fall. A grandiose spectacle. From there, we returned to the mainland, crossing over a breathtaking cantilevered bridge to the Canadian side. This bridge was constructed, or more accurately, flung across the Niagara all of two years ago. One's head spins when looking down. On the Canadian side I was obliged—so as not to be thought cowardly—to dress up in some very undignified garments, ride down in a lift to the bottom of the waterfall, walk through a tunnel and, finally, to stand beneath the waterfall itself, which is very interesting, but somewhat terrifying. At the top one is pressured into purchasing photographs and all other sorts of nonsense [...] From here we travelled downstream to Rapid's View. The Niagara, a much wider river than the Volga, divides into branches and falls from enormous rocks, before abruptly tapering to the size of the Seine; then, as if having gathered its force, it strikes the rapids and engages them in battle. I then went down by cable car with a boy guide, and walked quite far along the shore beside the raging river. The spectacle reminded me of Imatra, on a larger scale. Next I went quite some distance on foot around the bridge again, took my seat in the landau, and arrived home shortly before dinner. [1].


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Notes and References

  1. Diary entry for 30 April/12 May 1891.