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Joseph Klein

Joseph Klein is an American composer.
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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, either as an extension of the extra-musical references or as an organic expression of the musical narrative itself. Literature is another important influence on his work, with recent compositions based on the writings of Franz Kafka, Elias Canetti, Alice Fulton, W.S. Merwin, Milan Kundera, and John Ashbery.

Klein's compositions have been performed and broadcast internationally and his work has been recognized by such organizations as the National Endowment for the Arts, American Music Center, Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Gaudeamus Foundation, International Society for Contemporary Music, International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music, Society of Composers, Inc., Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States, American Composers Forum/Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer, National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, and ASCAP. Commissions, recordings, and other collaborations with new music specialists in the US and abroad include the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Orchestra 2001, Voices of Change, the Texas New Music Ensemble, TrioPolis, Amorsima Trio, cellist Madeleine Shapiro, saxophonist Andreas van Zoelen (Raschèr Saxophone Quartet), flutists Helen Bledsoe (Ensemble Musikfabrik) and Elizabeth McNutt, contrabassoonist James Rodgers (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra), bassist Michael Hartt (Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra), pianist Redi Llupa, glass harmonica player Thomas Bloch, and vocalists Joan LaBarbara and Dora Ohrenstein (Philip Glass Ensemble). He has been a featured guest composer at academic institutions, conferences, and music festivals throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. His recorded works are available on the Innova, Centaur, Crystal, and PARMA 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), where his composition teachers 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.

Der Tückenfänger (The Wile-catcher):
 character study after Elias Canetti

Bass Clarinet Alone,
(originally for Basset Horn)



NoPone Press (ASCAP)

Der Tückenfänger (The Wile-catcher) is the fourteenth in a series of short works for solo instrument based upon characters in Der Ohrenzeuge: Fünfzig Charaktere (Earwitness: Fifty Characters), written in 1974 by the Bulgarian-born British-Austrian novelist Elias Canetti (1905-1994). Canetti’s distinctive studies incorporate poetic imagery, singular insights, and unabashed wordplay to create fifty ironic paradigms of human behavior. This collection, begun in 1997, was inspired by the vividly surreal depictions of Canetti’s characters, and comprises twenty-two solo works to date—composed for familiar instruments such as violin, guitar, piano, and trombone, as well as less common instruments such as ocarina, cimbalom, glass harmonica, and carillon. In Canetti's depiction of this character, "the Wile-catcher looks around corners and will not be deceived. He knows what is hidden behind innocent masks, he knows, as if lightning has struck him, what someone wants from him; and before the mask falls of its own accord, he makes a quick decision and tears it off."

Der Tückenfänger was completed in December 2014 and composed for clarinetist Kimberly Cole Luevano, who premiered the work on 19 September 2016 at the University of North Texas.

included in score

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