About Barbara Ulman

Elegant classical music compositions created with musicians in mind


Barbara Ulman began piano lessons at age seven, started collaborating with other musicians five years later, and has since continued an active musical life.

She graduated from Harvard/Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with a combined concentration in psychology, anthropology, and sociology, while also studying piano chamber music at the nearby Longy School of Music.

After graduation, a summer course in Musicianship at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music spawned her interest in composing, just as she began her teaching career.

After completing 10 years of elementary school teaching, including classroom music, she moved to a small town in the foothills south of Yosemite National Park. In 1989 she completed a second B.A., concentrating in Music Theory and Composition, at California State University, Fresno.

She continues to be an active chamber music player, for fun and public performance. Her many years as a choral singer, and also the pianist for solo singers and chorus created a special affinity for the human voice. She now composes art songs and music for small ensembles and choruses.


Barbara’s creativity is inspired by several sources. Some of it is inspired by her love of whimsical poets such as E.E. Cummings, and her friend poet Rachel Oliver. Barbara was also influenced by Ram Dass, an influential figure who bridged the gap between Eastern spirituality and Western seekers. Some of her works are a reaction to dramatic events that have transpired in humanity; and she chose to express her compassion, empathy, and spiritual views through the power of music.

Musical Inspiration and Composer’s Statement


Psalm/Mantra Music

The idea for this work came to me out of the blue in the high mountains of California. It sent me to music school and came to fruition when I was ready, 34 years later.

This composition reflects my conviction that most religions have a similar intent: to help people live ethical lives in touch with something larger, higher, and all-encompassing. In combining a Sanskrit mantra with four Psalms, I blend the chant of Hindu meditation with three-part choral singing of the poetic King James version of the Psalms.

High Mountain Visions: The History of Joy, Praise, Hope

Psalm/Mantra Music

My first exposure to the mantra was during a speech by Ram Dass when his book Be Here Now was first published. I never thought of it again until several years later, when one evening, I “heard” the mantra in a chant spoken by thousands of people who seemed to be all around me. In my kitchen!

In the summer of 1976, I went on a backpacking trip into the Sierra Nevada in California. In the total silence of that vast, pristine landscape, a powerful message came into my consciousness: “Write music combining four Psalms with the mantra Adittya hridayam punyam sarv shatru bena sh’nam.”.

 All in green went my love riding-Using the poetry of E.E. Cummings  

This poem tells a story. It is scored for voice, French horn, and piano. A musical theme is associated with each passage at the beginning of the poem. These themes return in each verse for the related verbal passages. The intensity builds toward the final phrase, "my heart fell dead before," which is followed by a dramatic horn passage and summarizing chords in the piano.

The whimsical poetry of One winter afternoon, also by E.E.Cummings, inspired a playful concoction for voice and piano in which several whole-tone passages alternate with a tongue-in-cheek romantic style.


  • Piano

  • Violin

  • Organ

  • Clarinet 

  • Woodwind Quintet

  • French Horn

  • Chorus

  • Flute

  • Drums

  • English Horn

  • Harp

Mentors and teachers who have influenced her work:

Brad Hufft, of CSU Fresno, helped me overcome years of music writer’s block and encouraged me to share my compositions.

Josh Freeman's and John Kilburns's expertise allowed me to create a CD.

Those who have since passed but have contributed to my musicianship.

Francis Tatro, my high school music teacher, who picked me as a pianist for the glee club, and gave me many responsibilities.

Elizabeth Roberts, of the Longy School of Music, who taught me the joys of chamber music.

Sol Joseph, of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, told me I had a gift for melody(which surprised me)

Robert Gerster, of CSU Fresno, gave composition assignments that I could do even before taking music theory classes.


Please visit my YouTube Portfolio for further examples of my music.

Copyright © 2024 Barbara Ulman - All Rights Reserved.