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By the Waters of Minnetonka Song

The Legend of “By the Waters of Minnetonka”

An article taken from The Etude Magazine, February, 1921.

No other musician has had the wonderful experiences with the Sioux Indians that have come to Mr. Thurlow Lieurance through the great number of years he spent with the tribes. Mme. Alda, Frieda Hempel, Julia Culp, Mme. Melba, Henri Scott, Julia Claussen, and the very gifted Princess Watahwasso, with her glorious voice, have sung By the Waters of Minnetonka in all parts of the country. Few people, however, know of the beautiful legend that is associated with this song, which inspired both the poet and the musician. It is given below.

In the northern woods, a brave of the Sun branch of the Sioux fell deeply in love with a maiden of the Moon branch of the same tribe. Secretly they met, time and again, knowing full well that one of the ancient laws of the tribe placed the penalty of death upon those of these branches who loved.

An old brave saw the young couple at the trysting place and hastened to tell the others. Knowing that death was inevitable, the lovers rushed to the shore of the lake and waded into the rippling waters till they were finally buried beneath their shimmering waves. Thereafter, nightly, the waters sang the song of the lovers, to the accompaniment of the silvery ripple of the current, the sighing of the wind, and the lone call of this night-birds.

Mr. Lieurance has caught this effect magically – the movement of the phantom canoe, the ripple of the waters, the night-birds note, the lovely swaying melody – all make a little masterpiece that was instantly identified as such by many of the world’s greatest singers.

Several of the other Lieurance songs are equally beautiful, but have not obtained the prestige of “By the Waters of Minnetonka.” Among these are The Indian Lullaby, By Weeping Waters, and the Indian Spring Song.

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