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Anthologies Film and Video
Audio Historical and Literary Analyses
Biographies Internet Resources
Book Chapters Featuring John Muir The John Muir Library Series from Sierra Club Books
Bookmarks Live Presentations and Enactments
Books by John Muir Music
Children's Books Periodicals and Notable Recent Articles from Periodicals
For Educators and Youth Group Leaders Photography and Gift Books
Fiction Research Tools

Music     [up to table of contents]

For lyrics and sound clips, see individual song titles below or go to Songs About John Muir

"Muir's prose uses music as a persistent metaphor to relate his experience of listening to the wind. He describes the "profound bass" of branches and "boles booming like waterfalls; the quick tense vibrations of the pine-needles, now rising to a shrill, whistling hiss, now falling to a silky murmur." - Justin Ralls

"I drifted on through the midst of this passionate music and motion, across many a glen, from ridge to ridge; often halting in the lee of a rock for shelter, or to gaze and listen. Even when the grand anthem had swelled to its highest pitch, I could distinctly hear the varying tones of individual trees,—Spruce, and Fir, and Pine, and leafless Oak,—and even the infinitely gentle rustle of the withered grasses at my feet. Each was expressing itself in its own way,—singing its own song, and making its own peculiar gestures,—manifesting a richness of variety to be found in no other forest I have yet seen." ~John Muir, Wind Storm in the Forests of the Yuba, published in The Mountains of California


John Muir in the New World - by Garth Neustarter (2011) - original sound track recording to the film. Instrumental.

John Muir Tribute CD, John Muir Memorial Association, 1999. (Compact Disk) Produced by Jill Harcke and Dan McIlhenny. (off-site link)
An outstanding collection of music about or evocative of John Muir, together with quotations from John Muir read by a variety of Muir scholars and experts. This is a fundraiser for the John Muir Memorial Association, published in a limited edition. Our description page includes Real Audio and MP3 sound clips from the album.

Mountain Days: The John Muir Musical, Original Cast Recording (2001). Willows Theatre Company, Concord, CA 94520 (now defunct).
Excerpts from this wonderful musical feature Craig Bohmler's music and Mary Bracken Phillips' lyrics telling John Muir's life story, most notably: The Thousand Miles Walk, Climb the Mountains, Political Waltz, Ghosts, and A Valley Has A Soul. Unfortunately, the original cast recording omits the song, "Bully" - a duet between Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir.


The Black Irish Band (offsite link) performs "The Ballad of John Muir" - music and lyrics by Patrick Michael Karnahan. Featured on the group's 1997 album California Story.
This song is one of 15 original songs about the people, places, and music of California featured on the group's 1997 album California Story. It is performed in an up-beat style, inspiring us to think "John Muir's out there, if only we believe."

Jenni Brandon's "Sequoia Trio" is a woodwind chamber music piece. Brandon describes the piece: "Each movement of the "Sequoia Trio" takes a quote about Sequoia trees from John Muir's book The Yosemite and uses it to inspire the music. The opening waving pattern creates the gentle breeze as the growth of the tree starts in the bassoon, moving through the clarinet and is carried all the way to the top of the tree through the oboe. Movement two is sassy and jazzy, describing the kind of resilient attitude that young trees must maintain in order to survive. Finally, in "The Noble Trees," the instruments play a hymn-like tribute to the largest living things on earth. The two "Tree Interludes" represent the individual voice of a tree and its story." The piece is performed live by such music groups as Annapolis Symphony Woodwind Trio at the National Music Festival in Maryland, on on Jenni Brandon's album Songs of California. which is available in digital format or CD on Amazon, and iTunes.

BubbleCatsPdx perform Mountain Man ( link) - A hard-rock song, the group which recorded and posted this explain: "Mountain Man" touches on the life of John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, naturalist, and the man who helped create the National Park system in the United States. The song explores dichotomy of rejuvenation through communion with unspoiled natural wonder and mankind's inclination towards turning everything into a profit.

Scottish pop band Deacon Blue has a song "For John Muir" on their album "A New House."
Deacon Blue's frontman Ricky Ross said about the song: "It came about after Phil Cunningham and I were asked to work together on a possible commission. The commission didn't come off, but it got me thinking about John Muir again. I remember being in Dunbar years ago and then we went on holiday to Yosemite National Park in California and I was taken by his amazing history, from Dunbar to America. It focussed a lot of things for me."
See also A John Muir Journey on YouTube - John Muir Award Manager Rob Bushby spent his work-allocated 'Wild Days' (plus some vacation time) finding out about Muir and his legacy in America. It's summed up here in images to the song 'For John Muir' by Deacon Blue.

Bruce Campbell's composition, "Range of Light" for symphonic band with bagpipe obbligato, is another of a growing body of work with the same title.
This composition was based upon the writings of John Muir, first performed on Friday, December 11, 1998, at Wharton Center, Michigan State University. The composer describes the piece as "a tone poem which chronicles a day in the mountains - capturing the myriad an unforgettable effects of light upon the natural environment, from pre-dawn to nightfall." A special and perhaps unique feature of the work is the inclusion of the highland bagpipe, a nod to Muir's origins and the outdoor instrument par excellence, associated with wild and rugged landscape.

Urban Chamber Music group Chance presents "John Muir University of the Wilderness."
John Muir - University of the Wilderness, is a narrative concert for voice and string quartet, composed by Cheryl Leah and Ed Willett, performed by "urban chamber music" group "Chance." In "University of the Wilderness", Muir's words are accompanied by a score of "nature-forged" new music. This "Chance" ensemble piece is comprised of voice, cello, violin and narrator. The narrator links together a collection of both vocal and non-vocal musical pieces. The musical style combines contemporary, classical, and celtic music. With the narrator as the production's purveyor of Muir's words, the ensemble celebrates Muir's story from his childhood in Scotland to his young life in Wisconsin and to his profound experiences in the great Sierra Nevada Mountains. However, the program is not a historical account, but rather in the composers' word, "a performance that portrays a philosophical landscape aimed at inspiring all of us to revivify that part in ourselves that shares a kinship with Muir." After its 2014 premiere, there was a 10 performance run in the Mid-West, a 2015 tour to Scotland, and in 2016, 32 performances across 12 states, covering 26,000 miles in celebration of the centennial of the National Park Service. The group now is currently working on their next push for the program which is to bring the performance to metropolitan hubs in the U.S. and abroad in celebration of natural World Heritage sites in as many of the countries that Muir visited as they can.

William Camphouse's original concert band composition, "A Dauntless Soul" is an original, three-movement piece celebrating the life of naturalist and author John Muir the title “A Dauntless Soul” is how President Theodore Roosevelt described John Muir in a remembrance written in 1916. It was commissioned by the John Swett High School music program and composed for the musicians of the high school and Carquinez Middle School. The piece premiered at the John Swett High School in Crockett, California on May 17, 2013. John Muir was a close friend of John Swett, who as California Superintendent of Public Instruction in the 1860s is credited with making California's public schools free for all students, and for whom the school district and the high school are named. Camphouse is a retired educator and musician who has conducted and played trumpet with numerous community orchestras. He comments, noting that Muir has inspired numerous other orchestral pieces as well as folk ballads and a musical,: "In creating “A Dauntless Soul,” it was my aim to represent three constants that are found throughout Muir’s words and evidenced in his deeds, and address these in terms accessible to student musicians and diverse audiences." The music director of the John Muir High School music program is Vincent Pitzulo, a percussionist, who has had a long professional career as a performer and conductor with symphony and pop orchestras and as a director of musical plays.

Theresa Caroll's booklet, John Muir Sings: A Collection of Scottish Airs Sung by the Naturalist, now out of print, was published in 1978. It contains a general introduction about Muir's love for the Scottish language and music, and individual introductions to each of ten traditional Scottish songs showing their relationship to Muir, along with the complete lyrics and musical notation. The traditional Scottish songs featured include "Gilderoy," "The Cuckoo," "Oh! Why Left I My hame?," "Highland Mary," "Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigie Len," "The Banks o' Doon," "the Lass o' Gowrie," "O'er the Water to Charlie," "Old Hundredth," and "For A' That An' A' That."

Nell Shaw Cohen's song for SATB Choir, Crescent Meadow (soprano, alto, tenor, bass). A choral setting of text from an essay by John Muir about Crescent Meadow in Sequoia National Park. Performance History: Premiere by New Mexico Highlands University Concert Choir at New Mexico Highlands University, Ilfeld Auditorium, Las Vegas NM, 4/23/17. The score of Crescent Meadow is available for purchase as a PDF download.

Nell Shaw Cohen's operatic song "Dear Mrs. Carr," for tenor and piano (2015). Listen to "Dear Mrs. Carr" on Soundcloud. 5 minutes. Written for American Opera Projects Composers and the Voice fellowship. While working and living in Yosemite during the late 19th century, John Muir wrote many letters to his mentor, Jeanne Carr. The text of this song is excerpted and adapted from Muir's letters to Jeanne Carr. Public Performance History: Blake Friedman, tenor, and Charity Wicks, piano, "First Glimpse" concert presented by American Opera Projects, South Oxford Space, Brooklyn NY, 5/13 & 5/14/16. Private workshop. Brooklyn NY, 11/16/15.

Richard Cowan's "Winds," a 25 minute piece for small orchestra and solo tenor, a quasi-operatic role that has John Muir as narrator in Muir's beautiful text A Wind Storm in the Forest.  
In this orchestral -operatic work we follow Muir noticing the budding windstorm in a friend's log cabin, his climb up the mountain, shimmying up the tree,  enjoying the colors, scents and rhythms of the wind storm, and the slow descent in the evening, as the storm dies away. The world premiere of this operatic work will take place in July 2006 in France, on Belle Ile en Mer, off the Coast of Brittany, as part of the Lyrique in Mer Festival, the largest opera festival in Western France.

The Deedle Deedle Dees's song "John Muir" is on on their 2009 album American History + Rock-n-Roll = The Deedle Deedle Dees.
This song, like other Deedle Deedle Dee songs, is geared toward simply identifying someone from American history in a fun way, in hopes kids may then want to read more about them. The group's educational philosophy according to founding member Lloyd Miller goes like this: "During the course of this song, they won't learn much more about these people than they already knew" -- but the kids will have fun and perhaps be inspired to learn more. Thus, the silly lyrics of this song may make sense only in light of this philosophy. Read more...

Doron Diamond's song John Muir is an rock-pop instrumental on Diamond's album Silo.

Gail Lynne Dreifus' song "The Legend of John Muir" is included on her cassette tapes Yosemite by Song , (1987) and National Parks by Song , Gail Lynne Dreifus, Recycled String Band, P.O. Box 66, El Portal CA 95318.
This song recounts the story of Muir's life in a simple fashion especially for kids.

Keith Fitch's orchestral work,The Range of Light, composed by Keith Fitch, was e premiered in summer of 2017 at the Rocky Ridge Music Center in Rocky Mountain National Park. The work uses texts selected from several of John Muir's writings, including "Our National Parks," "My First Summer in the Sierra," "The Yosemite," as well as various unpublished texts. The performance date is Sunday, July 9, 2017 at 3pm at Rocky Ridge (located outside Estes Park, CO). After a premiere last year in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, a classical ensemble piece inspired by John Muir - "The Range of Light" - has now been completed. The work uses texts selected from several of John Muir's writings, including "Our National Parks," "My First Summer in the Sierra," "The Yosemite," as well as various unpublished texts. Listen and watch the performance on YouTube. See the Rocky Ridge Music Center page on The Range of Light (off-site link) for more information.

Robert Gerster's "Range of Light" is an orchestral piece inspired by John Muir.
This was first performed by the Fresno Chamber Music Ensemble as part of its fifth anniversary celebration in 1982. It was given its first full orchestral performance by the Tulare County Symphony Orchestra later that same year, and was again performed by the same orchestra as part of the outdoor Sequoia National Park Centennial Commemorative Concert in 1990.
The piece includes the following quotation from John Muir: "Of all the mountain ranges I have climbed, I like the Sierra Nevada the best. Benevolent, solemn, fateful, pervaded with divine light, every landscape glows like a countenance hallowed in eternal repose. And how bright is the shining, after summer showers and dewy nights and after frosty nights in spring and autumn, when the morning sunbeams are pouring through the crystals on the bushes and in winter through the snow-laden trees! Well may the Sierra be called The Range of Light."

Federick "Doc" Heide's song and musical by the same name, "The Mountains Call My Name", premiered at the American Folklore Theatre, October 2, 1989.
First performed in 1989 and later in 1996, 2012, and 2013, this is a musical theater presentation depicting Muir's troubled youth and nature-inspired adulthood. See description and reviews on "The Mountains Call My Name " on the Northern Sky Theater website. The title song from the musical, The Mountains Call My Name by Fred "Doc" Heide, is available on his album Lessons I Learned From The Moon. A 2012 production by the "Lake Superior Big Top Chataugua" in Washburn, WI performed the musical theater production "The Mountains Call My Name: A Musical Portrait of Environmentalist John Muir" on August 18, 2012. This version describes the show as follows: "Join the Blue Canvas Orchestra for their musical portrayal of John Muir, founder of the national park system and the Sierra Club. Mount Ashwabay and the towering pines around the tent prove an ideal setting for the stories of Muir, a Scottish-born Wisconsin resident for much of his early life. Written by American Folklore Theatre co-founder Frederick "Doc" Heide, the show has been adapted by our own Tom Mitchell who plays Muir, and our Musical Director Ed Willett who leads the BCO in a moving selection of songs that celebrate the glorious natural wonders Muir encountered and wrote about in his travels. That glory is illuminated on the big screen with photography and film curated by our Visuals Director Betty Ferris. This show will be a feast for all of your senses and promises to become a new favorite Big Top Chautauqua show." The song The Mountains Call my Name is also available on YouTube, performed by Steve Koehler and Jimmy Kaplan in 2013 in the Fishstock Music Series, at Camp David's concert barn in Fish Creek, Wisconsin.

Barry Hertz song, "Creation's Dawn (Ode to John Muir) has been recorded for a forthcoming album. Lyrics and other information is available on the Creation's Dawn page.

John Muir Middle School (Burbank) Students' 2014 song, Rainbow Dust. This beautiful song was written with words from John Muir combined with original lyrics, in a collaborative effort by the 7th grade students of the "Fourth Period" class taught by Steven Moos and Lynn Rothacher at John Muir Middle School in Burbank, California. the title, and the lyrics, were from a passage called "Winter Storms and Spring Floods", Chapter 2 of The Yosemite by John Muir. The mp3 recording was performed by Steven Moos and Rebecca Southward. Click here to listen to the song, learn how it was written, and read the lyrics.

Betsy Keithcart's song, "Tribute to John Muir" is included on her cassette tape, Mother of Pearl .
Betsy Keithcart's lovely soprano, accompanied by the troubadour harp, offers a beautiful melody, gently evocative of Muir's love of the wilderness.
Available from: Betsy Keithcart, 8900 Old Creek Drive, Elk Grove, CA 95758. (916) 421-8242.

Lee Kesselman's This Grand Show is Eternal, (2019.
With text by John Muir, for chorus and organ, commissioned and performed by San Francisco Lyric Chorus in honor of their 10th anniversary. Listen to "This Grand Show is Eternal" on Soundcloud.

Stephen Lias song, Like John in a Tree (2017). This eight-minute concert piece for baritone and piano recounts John Muir's experience climbing a tree during a wind-storm, and how that experience can inspire us today. You can listen to a 3-minute preview of the piece, and preview and purchase the sheet music, from the Stephen Lias website.

Gigi Love's song, "Yosemite Gold" is included on her full - length album National Parks Centennial Songs, which captures the story of our parks in song. The lyrics for this song include a brief reference to John Muir, as well as Ansel Adams and Theodore Roosevelt, in her lyrics, "Ansel, Muir and Theodore/Loved this Valley to the core..."
A YouTube Music video of "Yosemite Gold" is available.
You can buy the album from Gigi Love's website.

Mariposa's song, "John of the Mountains", by Matthew Werner, is recorded on their cassette tape, First Light of Dawn , (1993) Catalpa Records, P.O. Box 1314, Santa Cruz CA 95061. Telephone: (408) 427-1324
For more information, visit the Mariposa Website.

With the refrain using Muir's "Climb the Mountains..." quote, this is a melodic, inspirational song featuring nice harmonies. Lyrics and introductions included on liner notes. See Lyrics.

Sasha Matson's "Range of Light" - for Mezzo-Soprano and Chamber Orchestra, Texts by John Muir
This composition, in modern "classical" style, contains four movements, each featuring poetic text from John Muir sung by Mezzo- Soprano Catherine Robbins. The composer encountered the Sierra Nevada on family camping trips growing up, and "Range of Light" was composed after he encountered for the first time the writings of John Muir, in particular the posthumously published excerpts from his journals. Sasha Matson writes: "Two primary images are enacted in the music. First, the granite and stone that for Muir were alive; the homophonic/chordal textures express a solidity that undergirds the melodic line. Secondly, Light in the Emersonian sense; the use of canonic technique is a musical allegory for the wonderful language employed by Muir to describe Light in constant reflection, refraction, transmutation, - as a corporeal expression of Spirit; this melodic dimension is the primary axis of the music." More information is available on the New Albion Records website noted above.

Earth Mama's "Children of the World" (traditional tune, "Good King Wenceslas"), lyrics byAnn Palmer, sung by Earth Mama® - encourages us to "keep the planet healthy" and to follow "others of reknown" to "re-create our own home ground as an early heaven," - including "Carson, Lovelock, John Muir too, many more agreeing, they speak up for what to do." YouTube and available on online music streaming services.

Matt McBane's "On and On and" is a a choral piece based on the writings on John Muir. A recording performed by Sacra/Profana, conducted by Krishan Oberoi. Released 5/5/2015 may be purchased or free download at bandcamp. Premiered September 2014 at the Carlsbad Music Festival. Composer McBane reports that the piece was inspired by a visit to Yosemite in 2013, where he says he "encountered quotes by John Muir on signs throughout the park. Prior to this, I was familiar with Muir as a naturalist, but had not paid attention to his writings. When reading them I was taken aback by how poetic they were. At a particularly stunning viewpoint to at the entrance of Yosemite Valley, there was a sign with the following Muir text: "This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turns, as the round earth rolls." Reading this, I knew Muir's writings were what I was looking for. So, I searched his books for the right text, and saw that more than once when referring to the eternal cycles of nature, he used the phrase "on and on." In that, I found my text (and my title), just the two words "on" and "and." In "On and On and" the singers build up patterns first using only the word "on," then completing the patterns with the gradual addition of the word "and." As the piece ends the patterns break down removing the word "on," leaving only the word "and."

Geordie McIntyre's song, "John Muir" is recorded on the CD Rowan in the Rock: Songs of Love, Land and Nature, by Alison McMorland, Geordie McIntyre with Kirsty Potts (The Tradition Bearers, Kimarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland, 2001). Words by Geordie McIntyre. Tune: Gilderoy Traditional, adapted by Geordie McIntyre. Vocal: Geordie McIntyre and Alison McMorland. Arrangement: McMorland, Chalmers, Joy. Concertina: Normal Chalmers, Fiddle: Derek Hoy. Listen to the song on the McIntyre/McMorland website.
Using a traditional Scottish melody, this song is a tribute to John Muir, performed in a distinctively Scottish folk music style. The song briefly recounts Muir's life leaving Scotland, wandering through the wild, his profound message and vision, and his inspiration as "He blazed a worthy trail/His wisdoms must prevail." Each of the six stanzas ends with the refrain, "Now the time to sing/Let's hear it for John Muir," celebrating him as an explorer, man of letters, and "a guid friend tae the planet."

Kathy Muir's song "Sweet and Easy" celebrates Muir's lyrical approach to Nature, along with appreciation for artists Elizabeth Colborne (1885-1948) and The Seattle Camera Club (1924-1929). Song is available on Kathy Muir's album Far from Entirely.

Brian McNeill's song, "Muir and the Master Builder" is included on the Compact Disc, The Back o' the North Wind (Tales of the Scots in America) (1991), Greentrax Records, 3 Morven St., Edinburgh EH4 7LG SCOTLAND.
Singer-songwriter McNeill wonders in song whether Muir would have done the same for Scotland as he did for California had he stayed in the country of his birth. Contemporary folk sound. Album notes include a brief sketch of Muir and complete lyrics. The song has also been recorded by Dick Gaughan and Ed Miller.

Joan McMillin's piano music accompanies"Readings from John Muir", 30 minutes. (1993)
John Duryea reads selected passages from Muir's journals, taken from John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, and Joan McMillin surrounds and connects them with improvisational piano music. Selections include some of Muir's most spiritual, philosophical, and inspirational quotations. Includes personal introduction by John Duryea, and an introduction to the texts, quoting Linnie Marsh Wolfe, presented by Joan McMillen. Ordering information at Joan McMillin's website indicated above.

Libby McQuiston's song "Nature's Repose," 5 minutes (2012).
This beautiful choral piece focuses on John Muir's inspirational writings. The song begins with an a capella biographical introduction for a female chorus, followed by a male soloist singing words taken from John Muir's writings, who is then once again joined by a full chorus. 1 minute sound clip available.

George Michalski's instrumental piece, "John Muir" is included on the cassette tape Yosemite, (Masia Music).
This instrumental piano and violin piece is included on an album inspired by Yosemite, with other topics like "Waterfalls," "Sequoias," "Miwoks," and "Mountains."

Andrew Norman's 22-minute orchestral opus, "River of Mercy," composed by Andrew Norman, had its world premiere in Oakland's Paramount Theatre on April 22, 2007.
This work, commissioned by Michael Morgan and the Oakland East Bay Symphony, is a paean to the splendors of the Merced River. Using spoken excerpts from writings of the naturalist John Muir as a guide, it traces the river's course from the Sierras down to the sea. "The wild young river is singing the song of creation/Thrilling plants and animals and rocks alike." (Source: Review: "Aquatic imagery doesn't hold water in 'River of Mercy' by Joshua Kosman, Chronicle Music Critic, San Francisco Chronicle, April 23, 2007.

Bill Oliver's song, "Muir Power To You", is recorded on two cassette tapes, Better Things to Do (1987) and Audubon Adventures (1986), both available from Live Oak Records & Tapes, 515 E. 40th St., Austin TX 78751.
This is a rousing, high-spirited song praising Muir's life and encouraging listeners to follow in his footsteps. An inspirational, foot-tapping country-folk sound touching on many important events of Muir's life; outstanding.

Bill Oliver's song "Me and Stickeen" is included on his album Friend of the River.
Based on John Muir's true story, Stickeen, this is a ballad sung from the perspective of John Muir himself. Faithful to Muir's book-length story, but distilled down to the essence, this song elicits strong emotions as you hear about man and dog's perilous crossing of a glacier.

Bill Oliver's 2005 song Hooray for Hetch Hetchy is the new theme song for Restore Hetch Hetchy.
This song celebrates John Muir's beloved Hetch Hetchy, inviting the listener to "Imagine yourself in Hetch Hetchy... Imagine a second Yosemite... Imagine a Tuolumne River set free..." Some of the lyrics are adapted from John Muir's book The Yosemite.

Mary Bracken Phillips and Craig Bohmler's song, "Climb the Mountains", part of Mountain Days: The John Muir Musical
Craig Bohmler's music and Mary Bracken Phillips' lyrics combine in a powerful celebration of John Muir's outdoors philosophy. Phillips says the words all came from Muir, but she arranged them lyrically. Sung in the First Act of the musical by the young John Muir with his friend Chilwell, the song is reprised the Act II as the resounding finale at the end of the musical.

Anthony Plog's Sierra Journal for soprano, trumpet, string orchestra, piano and percussion (2011). This 23 minute piece for orchestra and soprano contains six different movements, with text and lyrics taken from John Muir's writings between the years 1863 to 1875. In setting Muir's words to music, composer Anthony Plog strove to capture Muir's sense of wonder at the beauty and miracle of the mountains. Most of the music is bright and tonal with only a few exceptions, the most important being the final movement with its question of what role will man play in the mountains destiny. The work begins and ends with an offstage trumpet, suggesting a voice in the wilderness, and the final solo ends with a question, not a resolution. The six movements include: I. "Mountain Days," II. "Instincts," III. "Sunbeams," IV. "Voice in the Wilderness," V. "Spring," and VI. "Epilogue - Men.". The piece was composed in 2011, and published in 2012 by Editions Brim, where the sheet music score is available for purchase.

Anthony Plog's oratorio, "God's First Temples," (2019) is a song cycle celebrating the beauty of the Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy valleys as described in the writings of John Muir. The world premiere was 9 July 2019, at the Stanford Memorial Church (Standord, California), in a concert featuring soprano Maria Bengtsson.

Justin Ralls has composed several orchestral pieces, including an opera, inspired by John Muir and his writings:

  • Tree Ride, composed by Justin Ralls, performed by San Francisco Conservatory of Music Orchestra (YouTube). "Tree Ride" was inspired by John Muir's famous essay "Wind-storm in the Forests of the Yuba." The first time Muir consciously chose to make himself the subject of his writing, he recounts the ecstasy of climbing a Douglas fir to "obtain a wider outlook and get my ear close to the Aeolian music of its topmost needles." (Premiered by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Orchestra under the direction of Scott Sandmeier, September 28, 2013).
  • Two Yosemites: An Outdoor Chamber Opera by Justin Ralls. An opera adapted from the play "The Tramp and the Roughrider" by Lee Stetson, adapted from letters, speeches, and writings of John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt. Two Yosemites: An Outdoor Opera coming to a National Park near you by Justin Ralls. Premiered by the San Francisco Conservative of Music New Music Ensemble, Conducted by Nicole Paiement on May 13, 2014. See also
    • Rave Reviews for Justin Ralls' "Two Yosemites" by Adolph Rosekrans, Restore Hetch Hetchy. (September 19, 2017)
    • "Two Yosemites' review: mythological quest" by Matthew Andres, Oregon Arts Watch (September 12, 2017)
  • Tree-Wavings, a six minute work for string quartet, premiered at the 2014 Oregon Bach Festival by Fear No Music. The composer, Justin Ralls, writes: "The writings of John Muir have become a guiding inspiration in my music. It is not only his wonderful literary storytelling and lyrical style but also his sense of experience and place that lures me in. We also tend to share a love for the same experiences and places. Muir shows us where to go and how to listen; where to find wildness in a new and creative way. Often this is as much a spiritual journey as it is a physical one. John Muir's sense of place and his own creativity continually embolden me."

Jason Ringenberg's song "John Muir Stood Here" - In June 2017, Americana country-rock musician Jason Ringenberg wrote a new album "Stand Tall" while commissioned as an Artist in Residence at Sequoia National Park in California. The National Park Service put him up in a remote mountain cabin for a month to write songs and do concerts there. "I found that spending so much time alone in that primal wilderness did wonders for my song writing," said Ringenberg. "Writing songs while standing under 2000-year-old sequoias does tend to give you a leg up." One of the songs he wrote there was "John Muir Stood Here." Not all the songs on the album evoke wilderness or national parks, but another song on the album that does a superb job of praising the ancient trees, in a quieter way than the Muir song, is "'Here in the Sequoias." Known for breaking in a new country-rock sound as lead with Jason and the Scorchers, he also has performed as children's artist under the name "Farmer Jason," with sing-a longs, dancing, and discussions about nature appreciation, ecology, and farm animals. Preview or buy the song on Jason Ringenberg's website.

Jake Runestad's "Come to the Woods" - an 11-minute chorale piece written by an award-winning American composer of classical music based in Minneapolis. As reported by Broadway World, "The text for the work is taken from the writings of John Muir, the famous Scottish-American naturalist, explorer, and early advocate for preserving the American wilderness. The music presents vivid sound "pictures" that evoke the lyrics." The text begins with Muir's exhilarating statement "Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue." Jake Runestad's explains his piece thusly: "'Come to the Woods' explores Muir's inspirations and the transporting peace found in the natural world. Using a collage of fragments from Muir's writings, the work ventures from the boisterous joy of a "glorious day," to the quiet whispering of wind, to the rejuvenating power of a storm, to the calming "amber light" when the clouds begin to clear. I hope it captures the self-discovery and sustenance one encounters while exploring the outdoors and its vital importance in our lives. Most recently, the work is included in a concert presented by the Sonoran Desert Chorale in Mesa (October 7, 2017) and Scottsdale (October 8, 2017), Arizona. Broadway World expounds: "And the piano accompaniment displays the talents of the Chorale's accompanist, Mutsumi Mori. This is an extraordinary choral work and an experience not to be missed."
Premiere performance by Conspirare available on YouTube showing its World premiere at St. Martin's Lutheran Church, Austin, TX, May 9, 2015.
Also available on YouTube (Jake Runestad's channel) and on Soundcloud performed by the Georgia State University Singers -- Deanna Joseph, conductor.
Score Available for Purchase from Jake Runestad - with lyrics, Issu preview, soundcloud, and video files embedded.

The Redwoods song Listen to John Muir recommends this response to the world's troubles: "Well listen to John Muir / the mountaintops are all we need." From the digital album by the same name on, where you can preview the song, read the lyrics, and purchase. (offsite-links)

Thomas Schemenaur's song Range of Light [iTunes link] from his 1999 album of the same title - a rock song using Muir's quote "Nature's peace will flow into you" quote and other paraphrases from Muir's writings.

Tom Shindler, "The Wilderness- in Memory of John Muir" (Copyright 1975) - "This is where the earth is wild - makes you wonder like a child, this is where your spirit learns to fly..." Music (MP3) - Lyrics and chords (PDF). (Off-site links to Planet Patriot Earth Songs)

Jonathan Sprout's song Come Back Home celebrating John Muir, from his album, American Heroes #3.
This song celebrating John Muir is available on Jonathan Sprout's third album about American heroes, American Heroes #3. Although categorized in the children’s music genre, American Heroes #3 is anything but juvenile. It’s a collection of pop rock tunes with a sophisticated sound, rich with intricate, interweaving counter melodies and a full assortment of instruments, including walls of electric and acoustic guitars, pop synth sounds, banjos, mandolins, accordions, horns and various keyboards. Sprout's clear strong voice is frequently accompanied by background vocalists who are not children, unlike so much children's music.

Dan Thomasma and Terry Yazzolino's two-part John Muir Suite: Hymn to the Wilderness and A Mountaineer's Prayer are included on their album Trails Plowed Under, Legends of the West (2003).
This pair of songs evoke the spirit of the wilderness as seen through the spirit of John Muir. These two songs, are part of the musicians' John Muir Suite. The first song of the John Muir Suite, Hymn to the Wilderness uses direct quotations from John Muir as the lyrics. The refrain is the famous "Climb the mountains...." quotation. The second song of the John Muir Suite, A Mountaineer's Prayer uses different quotes and paraphrases from Muir, evoking the spirit of the wilderness, its silence and mystery. For more information: Medicine Tree Music

Gwynth Walker's Touching the Infinite Sky: Based on the letters of John Muir from Yosemite, California (1871-72) (2017).
This 17:30 minute choral adaptation was composed for Men's Chorus with Tenor Soloist, adapted from the composer's solo song cycle, Songs from the High Sierra, for High Voice and Piano. The lyrics are based on five letters that John Muir wrote to his spiritual mentor, Mrs. Jeanne Carr, selected by the composer for their range of topics and sentiments. Each song or movement bears a title reflecting the content of one of the five letters. Song titles include: 1. "Ascent: Glaciet Birds and Other Companions;" 2."Glory in the Mountains," 3. "Yosemite Falls," 4. "Ice!"; and 5. "Descent: Sequoia [Squirrelville, Sequoia County, Nut Time]." The choral adaptation employs the additional voices of the chorus as an expansive background to the soloist.The musical settings, especially in the piano accompaniment, are evocative of the Sierra landscape: Glacier birds scamper up and down the keyboard in tone "clusters;" "Icy" glissandi float off; waterfalls cascade down in scales. The original songs were completed in 2014. The new work was commissioned by Louisiana State University for the Tiger Glee Club, which premiered the music on October 3, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The musical score is available for purchase, along with a PDF and several mp3 previews from Canticle Distributing.

Ed Willet's narrative concert for voice and string quartet, "John Muir - University of the Wilderness," performed by Chance. This piece uses the conservationist's own words to tell his story. Read article and listen to interview of the composer and excerpts of the composition from Public Radio International (PRI) "Living on Earth" series: New music brings conservationist John Muir's story to life ( June 22, 2015).

Douglas Wood's song, "The Big Trees Are Down" (co-written with Edith Rylander) is included on the CD and digital format album Earthsongs (1985).
This song celebrates the lives of great naturalist-conservationists, including besides Muir such luminaries as Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and Sigurd Olsen.
"Who will love the land, now the big trees are down?" The entire album is an absolutely outstanding collection of songs with themes of ecology and the great outdoors. Suitable for young and old.

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