Biography (medium)

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 internationally, and he has been a featured guest composer at academic institutions, conferences, and music festivals throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. His works have been recognized by such organizations as the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Composers Forum/Jerome Foundation, the American Music Center, the Gaudeamus Foundation of Amsterdam, and ASCAP. His recorded works are available on the Innova, Centaur, Crystal, and Mark labels.

Klein holds degrees in composition from Indiana University (DM, 1991), University of California, San Diego (MA, 1986), and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (BA, 1984). His composition teachers have included Harvey Sollberger, Claude Baker, Robert Erickson, and Roger Reynolds. 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.