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Songs About John Muir

John Muir Tribute CD Now Available!John Muir Tribute CD

Each of the following links offers artist and album information, sound clips, and lyrics.

Songs Inspired by John Muir

  • "Back to the Mountains (Hymn for John Muir" - by Logan Kendall (Offsite link to YouTube) (2019)
  • "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.
  • Come Back Home by Jonathan Sprout
  • Creation's Dawn (Ode to John Muir) by Barry Hertz
  • Climb the Mountains - Lyrics by Mary Bracken Phillips and music by Craig Bohmler (from Mountain Days: The John Muir Musical
  • "Cry of the Wild" by Gary Bowman - from the album Gary Bowman's Song of the Animals,
  • Sweet and Easy by Kathy Muir
  • Hiking with John (YouTube) by Dan Rush, on the 2024 "Dan and Cindy" album Heartwood. Dan writes: "I love John Muir, wrote a song about him inviting us for a hike." Dan's lyrics are largely taken from John Muir's writings.
  • Hooray for Hetch Hetchy by Bill Oliver (off-site link)
  • John Muir Suite by Dan Thomasma and Terry Yazzolino
  • John Muir by Doron Diamond, on the album Silo. Instrumental.
  • Listen to John Muir by The Redwoods - This band 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)
  • The Mountains Call My Name by Fred "Doc" Heide on his album Lessons I Learned From The Moon. The song The Mountains Call my Name is available on YouTube , performed by Steve Koehler and Jimmy Kaplan.
  • Mountain Days - Original Cast Recording - Features ten songs from the musical about John Muir's life.
  • Mountain Man - by BubbleCatsPdx - 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.
  • Range of Light* (off-site link to by Sasha Matson, For Mezzo-Soprano (Catherine Robbins) and Chamber Orchestra Texts by John Muir - (offsite link)
  • Rainbow Dust - (MP3 music file) by John Muir Middle School (Burbank) Students. This beautiful song was written with words from John Muir combined with original lyrics, in a collaborative effort by 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.
  • Range of Light [off-site link] by Thomas Schemenaur from his 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.
  • Range of Light by Walkin' Jim Stoltz
  • Sierra by Kyle Vincent
  • Two Little Feet by Greg Brown
  • "The Wilderness - in Memory of John Muir" (Intro and Song on YouTube) (Copyright 1975) by Tom Shindler "This is where the earth is wild - makes you wonder like a child, this is where your spirit learns to fly." This song combines Wilderness imagery, emotion, and philosophy with some of John Muir's writings. This is an original song written and performed by Tom Shindler. The video includes an introduction with background on how the song came to be. Lyrics, chords and a lead sheet are available on, along with links to Tom's other songs, many of which celebrate wilderness and nature. (All songs and lyrics copyright 1975 by Tom Shindler.)
  • "Yosemite Gold" by Gigi Love 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.

* Note: There are numerous additional instrumental and some vocal pieces with the title "Range of Light" or "John Muir" but most appear to just use Muir's name without otherwise linking the piece to Muir himself. Those are not included here.

Orchestral, Choral, and Opera Music Inspired by John Muir

  • "The River's Song" (2018) by Elaine Hagenberg, in honor of the opening of the new arts center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, named "Pablo Center at the Confluence." The city of Eau Claire, WI, was founded near the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers. The commissioned work, performed by Eau Claire's "Master Singers," accompanied by The Bridge String Quartet from UW-Eau Claire and piano, is based on the poetry of two Wisconsin-rooted persons - former Wisconsin State Poet Laureate Max Garland and the Scottish-American naturalist John Muir. The world premiere for the song on October 14, 2018, was the choral ensemble's first concert at the newly-constructed Pablo Center at the Confluence and was arranged in honor of its grand opening. "I think the music is particularly appropriate for this scene and where the community is at right now," said Gary Schwartzhoff, artistic director and conductor of the Master Singers. Jennifer Eddy, who has sung in The Master Singers for the last three years, said the song feels like an homage to two "Wisconsin heroes," as well as the conclusion to the long-awaited Confluence Project. "You can look out the window and you see the two rivers becoming one, just as you're singing the words of Max Garland and John Muir to make "The Rivers' Song,'" Eddy said. "The Confluence is a tangible expression of how our community values the arts. It's great." In addition to the lines of poetry or words, the sound and atmosphere is also carried through the instrumentation, as the piano and string ensemble together sound like a moving stream.
  • Crescent Meadow (2017) by Nell Shaw Cohen. Written for an SATB choir ( 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.
  • Dear Mrs. Carr (2013) by Nell Shaw Cohen. Written for tenor and piano for American Opera Projects Composers & the Voice fellowship. While working and living in Yosemite National Park during the late 19th century, the great preservationist and naturalist John Muir (1838-1914) wrote many letters to his mentor, Jeanne Carr. These letters form the basis of this song's text. 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. Music file available from
  • "I Have Been There Before" (2018) by composer Eric Banks is centered around the Alaskan travels of legendary naturalist John Muir in 1879. "Even within the delight in Muir's description of the Alaskan wilderness, there is the bittersweet sense that this beauty is fleeting," Banks said in a press release. "I have tried to capture this in the title of this work: To have been there before… Many of the glaciers that Muir hiked are now gone, as much of our wilderness around the world is shrinking by the day. Indeed, if we continue to not protect and conserve, the memory of it will be all that we have left – 'to have been there before.'" To make the piece even more authentically Alaskan,part of the lyrics are sung in a Native Alaskan language. "When I learned the role that the Tlingit people played in Muir's safety throughout his journeys, I knew that I wanted to honor them in this piece," Banks continued. "After a small amount of research into the language, I felt that the singing of Tlingit text would provide the perfect "environment" to Muir's narration. Most of the words that I've chosen for this purpose are color names — many of which are fascinatingly derived — and the words to describe natural phenomena." The piece features a surround-sound choral-orchestral setting of excerpts from Travels in Alaska by John Muir, with additional descriptive texts in the native language Tlingit, scored for triple chorus, string orchestra, piano, and percussion. The world premiere of this piece was made as part of a 3 piece orchestral presentation entitled "Our Voice: Music and Stories of Alaska" performed by the Anchorage Concert Chorus, directed by Grant Cochran, on October 14, 2018 at the Atwood Concert Hall of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Like John in a Tree (2017) by Stephen Lias. This eight-minute 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.
  • This Grand Show is Eternal, music by composer Lee Kesselman (2019. With text by John Muir, for chorus and organ, commissioned and performed by San Francisco Lyric Chorus in honor of their 10th anniversary.
  • Winds composed by Richard Cowan,  Artist in Residence, Northern Kentucky University - 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 of 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.
  • "River of Mercy," composed by Andrew Norman, had its world premiere in Oakland's Paramount Theatre on April 22, 2007. This 22-minute opus, 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. (Source: Review: "Aquatic imagery doesn't hold water in 'River of Mercy' by Joshua Kosman, Chronicle Music Critic, San Francisco Chronicle, April 23, 2007.
  • 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. | Act One is available on YouTube. Premiered by the San Francisco Conservative of Music New Music Ensemble, Conducted by Nicole Paiement on May 13, 2014.
  • John Muir - University of the Wilderness, 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.

    • The Range of Light, composed by Keith Fitch, 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 premiere was Sunday, July 9, 2017 at 3pm at Rocky Ridge (located outside Estes Park, CO). See the Rocky Ridge Music Center page on The Range of Light (off-site link) for more information. Listen and watch the performance on YouTube.


    • "Come to the Woods" by Jake Runsestad, is an 11- minute piece for chorale by an award-winning American composer of classical music based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 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.
    • "Sequoia Trio" by American composer Jenni Brandon. 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.
    • "Sierra Journal" for soprano, trumpet, string orchestra, piano and percussion by composer Anthony Plog (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.
    • Touching the Infinite Sky: Based on the letters of John Muir from Yosemite, California (1871-72)by composer: Gwyneth Walker (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 of the piece 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.
    • "On and On and" by Matt McBane 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."
    • "Nature's Repose" by Libby McQuiston. 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.
    • "God's First Temples," a song cycle by composer Anthony Plog, 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 (Stanford, California), in a concert featuring soprano Maria Bengtsson.

See also John Muir Bibliography, Music Section for annotations, and additional listings of instrumental music inspired by John Muir.

For more environmental songs, including Songs for Hetch Hetchy, go to Harold Wood's collection of Earth Songs (offsite link)

Return to Songs and Audio About John Muir

7 March 2022

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