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—which has been described as “a dizzying euphoria... like a sonic tickling with counterpoint gone awry” (NewMusicBox) and exhibiting a “confident polyvalence [that] heightens its very real excitement” (The Wire)—reflects an ongoing interest in processes drawn from such sources as fractal geometry, chaos, and systems theory, often inspired by natural phenomena. His works frequently incorporate theatrical elements, whether 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.
Klein has collaborated with a number of new music specialists in the US and Europe, having composed solo works for cellist Madeleine Shapiro, saxophonist Andreas van Zoelen (Raschèr Saxophone Quartet), flutists Helen Bledsoe (Ensemble Musikfabrik) and Elizabeth McNutt, contrabassoonist James Rogers (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra), bassist Michael Hartt (Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra), pianist Redi Llupa, and glass harmonica specialist Thomas Bloch. He has also worked with vocalists Joan LaBarbara and Dora Ohrenstein (Philip Glass Ensemble), the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Elgart/Yates Guitar Duo, and the music-telling troupe Tales & Scales. His 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; 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's work has been recognized by 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 (two Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and honorable mention in the Nissim Prize Competition). His recorded works are available 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.