Toronto Music Garden arial view

Toronto Music Garden: A Work of Art

Inspired by the classical music of Bach, this exceptional garden is the collaborative vision of cellist Yo-Yo Ma,

and Boston landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy.

Echoing six musical movements, Toronto Music Garden depicts Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello in its design. The garden’s intended home was Boston, but plans were scuppered by city regulations and red tape. Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall, Director of Parks Susan Richardson, and philanthropist Jim Fleck rescued the garden and provided the site for its creation.

Toronto Inherits Beauty

In the late 1990s, Yo-yo Ma had a great interest in the French-German theologian Albert Schweitzer. Their shared love for Bach’s music gave birth to a beautiful idea. Yo-Yo Ma began a film, now called “Inspired by Bach”, based on the six dance movements within the work. The cellist felt that nature was intrinsic to the music. A beautiful, artistic, magical garden was needed to create this musical environment. The lakeside property was perfectly located, stretching along the western edge of Harbourfront. Julie Moir Messervy transformed the site into a garden using natural elements to evoke different moods describing the six musical movements. 

Visitors Begin a Musical Journey

Prelude describes a flowing river. Evenly spaced Hackberry trees visually divide the land, imparting tempo and rhythm to the environment. The visual riverbed flows into the Allemande. A thickly planted Birch forest gives the German Dance a European setting. Visitors see a Maypole and find themselves in the lively, spiraling French Courante. Calming the Courante, Serabande brings serenity and stability to the garden. Pine trees form an arc-like grove around a large rock with a reflecting pool. Guests then enter the fifth movement, Menuet, symmetrically designed, with a circular performance area. The last movement, the triumphant and lively Gigue, opens into an amphitheater with grass-covered steps and waterfront views.

Toronto, on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, is the perfect site for this award-winning garden. From conception to realization, the garden is a celebration of life. There is nothing like it in the world.