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Music


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
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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
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Music     [up to table of contents]

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


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, 1425 Gasoline Alley, Concord, CA 94520, (925) 798-1300, online ordering.
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."

Bruce Campbell's composition, "Range of Light" (offsite link) 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.

William Camphouse's original concert bandcomposition, "A Dauntless Sould" 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. The music director of the John Muir High Schol 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."

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.

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."

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.

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.

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
E-Mail: info@catalparecords.com

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.

Sasha Matson's Range of Light (offsite link) 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.

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.

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.

Jonathon 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 TerryYazzolino'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
www.medicinetreemusic.com.
John Muir Suite:
Hymn to the Wilderness
(iTunes link)
A Mountaineer's Prayer
(iTunes link)

Douglas Wood's song, "The Big Trees Are Down" (co-written with Edith Rylander) is included on the cassette tape Earthsongs , The Science Museum of Minnesota, (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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