Born in Los Angeles in 1962, Joseph Klein is a composer of solo, chamber, and large ensemble works, including instrumental, vocal, electroacoustic, and intermedia compositions. His music reflects an ongoing interest in processes inspired by natural phenomena—often drawing from such sources as fractal geometry, chaos, and systems theory—and frequently incorporates theatrical elements, either as a component of the extra-musical references or as an organic outgrowth of the musical narrative itself. Literature is another important influence on Klein’s work, with recent compositions based on the writings of Franz Kafka, Elias Canetti, Alice Fulton, W.S. Merwin, Milan Kundera, and John Ashbery, among others.
Klein’s compositions have been performed and broadcast throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia, and have been featured at national and international music venues including the Gaudeamus International Musicweek (Amsterdam), Ammerman Center Symposium on Arts and Technology, Symposium XII for New Band Music, Living Arts of Tulsa New Genre Festival, and the American Music Week in Bulgaria (Sofia); contemporary music festivals at Louisiana, Bowling Green, Florida State, Towson, Morehead State, and Western Illinois Universities, The Juilliard School, the University of Florida, and the University of Memphis; and conferences of the Society of Electroacoustic Music in the United States, International Trombone Association, North American Saxophone Alliance, World Saxophone Congress, International Trumpet Guild, International Double Reed Society, Percussive Arts Society, Society of Composers, Inc., and the Music Educators National Conference. He has been a featured guest composer at such institutions as Cornell University, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Michigan, SUNY Buffalo, University of Louisville, University of North Dakota, Pepperdine University, Arkansas Governor's School, American University in Bulgaria (Blagoevgrad), Janácek Akademie (Brno, Czech Republic), National Taiwan Normal University (Taipei, Taiwan), Myongji University (Yongin, South Korea), and Sichuan Conservatory (Chengdu, China), where he has presented lectures and master classes, organized concerts, and conducted performances of new music.
Research and teaching interests include postmodern aesthetics, the role of the composer in society, contemporary notational practices, and the work of Frank Zappa. He has presented papers at the Observatoire internationale de la creation musicale (Université de Montréal), the Lodz Academy of International Studies (Lodz, Poland), and the International Workshop on Computer Music and Audio Technology (Hsinchu, Taiwan). Klein is the recipient of awards and honors from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Composers Forum/Jerome Foundation, the American Music Center, the Gaudeamus Foundation of Amsterdam, Phi Mu Alpha, Meet the Composer, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). His works are recorded on the Innova, Centaur, Crystal, and Mark labels.
Klein holds a Doctor of Music degree in Composition (1991) from Indiana University where he studied with Harvey Sollberger, Claude Baker, and Eugene O'Brien. He also holds a Master of Arts degree (1986) from the University of California at San Diego, where his composition teachers included Robert Erickson, Roger Reynolds, and Bernard Rands, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music (1984) from the California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, where he studied composition with Stan Gibb. He is currently Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of North Texas College of Music, where he has served as Chair of Composition Studies since 1999.