Lothar Klein | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Lothar Klein

Klein, Lothar. Composer, teacher, b Hanover, Germany, 27 Jan 1932; naturalized Canadian 1985, d Toronto 3 January 2004; BA (Minnesota) 1954, MA (Minnesota) 1956, PH D (Minnesota) 1961.

Klein, Lothar

Klein, Lothar. Composer, teacher, b Hanover, Germany, 27 Jan 1932; naturalized Canadian 1985, d Toronto 3 January 2004; BA (Minnesota) 1954, MA (Minnesota) 1956, PH D (Minnesota) 1961. He studied composition with Paul Fetler at the University of Minnesota, orchestration privately 1956-8 with Antal Dorati, and composition in 1956 with Goffredo Petrassi at Tanglewood and on a Fulbright Fellowship 1958-60 with Josef Rufer and Boris Blacher at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin and Luigi Nono in Darmstadt. He taught at the Hochschule as an assistant to Blacher 1958-60 and at the universities of Minnesota 1962-4 and Texas 1964-8 before joining the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto in 1968.

Klein's compositions, which have won Rockefeller New Music prizes (1965 and 1967), the Greenwood Choral Prize (1968, for Three Chinese Laments), and the Floyd S. Chalmers Performing Arts Creative Award (1982, for Tale of a Father and a Son), reflect influences as disparate as Varèse (Symmetries for Orchestra) and jazz (Musique à Go-Go). Klein received commissions from NMC (Virtuoso Music), Roxolana Roslak and Jean McPhail (Of Bells, Birds, and Bees), the Chinese Chamber Orchestra (Landscape with Pipers), the Canadian Association of Youth Orchestras (Festival Partita), the Festival of the Sound (String Quartet), the Ontario Arts Council and Intrada Brass (Gaîté Canadienne), and Amici and Music Canada 2000 (Partita 2000). His Concerto Sacro for Viola and Orchestra was performed by Robert Verebes with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and MSO in 1984.

Hanns-Bertold Dietz commented: 'All of Klein's works, whether light or serious, attempt to find parallel points of reference between old and new music, and thereby comment on music's historical continuity. Klein's collage compositions, based on pre-existent older music, are profound pieces. They successfully bridge differences of time and culture, and offer a rich source of stylistic analysis' (PRO Canada pamphlet).

Klein contributed many articles to journals in the USA and Canada. In 1991, he was guest composer in residence at the universities of Nebraska and Houston, as well as at Smith College (Massachusetts) and the MacDowell Colony (New Hampshire). He retired from the University of Toronto in 1996, at which time he announced his intention to write a comic opera. Among his later compositions were Partita 2000 (which he described as "a retrospective of musical styles of these last 100 years"), premiered by Amici; Gaîté Canadienne, for the Intrada Brass; and String Quartet No. 2, premiered by the St. Lawrence String Quartet in 1995. In explaining his later compositions, the composer stated, "The 1990s reveal a broader interest in style as style itself. If my œuvre seems eclectic, it is because I deem our times as eclectic, thus offering a great stylistic variety. In my procedures, humour remains an integral element."

He was a member of the CLComp, and an associate of the Canadian Music Centre. Recordings of Klein's compositions were issued by Centrediscs and CBC, and a concert of his music was broadcast by CBC Radio in 2001. He deposited his papers with the University of Toronto's Edward Johnson Music Library in 1997.

Selected Compositions

Tale of a Father and a Son (G. Plaut). 1982 (Banff 1989). Ms


'The ISCM festival at Hamburg,' CanComp, 42, Sep 1969

'Stravinsky's poetics: music and life style,' CAUSM J, vol 2, Fall 1972

'Stravinsky and opera: parable as ethic,' CMB, 4, Spring-Summer 1972


Symmetries for Orchestra. 1958. Large orch. Presser 1972

Musique à Go-Go. 1966. Orch. Presser 1972. 1967. First Edition LS-672 (Louisville O, Whitney conductor)

Design for Percussion and Orchestra. 1970. Leeds 1983

Janizary Music '3 pieces for military orchestra'. 1970. Small orch. B&B 1971

The Masque of Oriana. 1971. Orch. Presser 1978

Passacaglia for the Zodiac. 1971. Str orch. Ms

Symphonic Études (Symphony No. 3). 1972. Presser 1975

Music for Violin and Orchestra. 1972. Vn, chamber orch. Ms

Invention, Blues and Chase. 1975. Accord, string orch. Ms

Musica antiqua. 1975. Consort, orch. Chanteclair 1976

España 'Boccherini Collage.' 1978. Vc, orch. Presser 1982

Fanfares for Orchestra. 1978. Orch. Ms

Concerto Sacro for Viola and Orchestra. 1984. Ms

Landscape with Pipers. 1984. Chamb orch. Ms

Music for Kids. 1986. Multiple perf on 1 piano, narrator, orch. Ms

Festival Partita. 1990. Orch. Ms

Danseries: Three Orchestral Dances. 1997

Zez: Music from America's Flapper Age. 2003


Trio Sonata. 1968. Cl, violoncello, piano (harpsichord), percussion. Third Stream 1970

Six Exchanges. 1972. Saxophone. Tenuto Publications 1972. Golden Crest RE-7056 (Brodie)

Eclogues for Guitar Solo. 1975. Wat 1978

Hacheava: Memorial Meditations (Sephardic Rites, Psalms). 1979. Db, contrabassoon, harp, percussion. Ms

Meditation 'for John Lennon, Dec 9 1980'. 1980. Vn, piano. Ms

Variations on Two Well-Known Airs. 1981. Ob, clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, horn. Ms

Virtuoso Music. 1987. Va, violoncello, double-bass. Ms

String Quartet 'Quartets of the Sound'. 1991. Ms

It Is Time: A Trio of Musics for Violin, Cello and Piano. 1993

Trocadéro: Music for Paris in the '20s. 1994. Oboe, clarinet, bassoon, piano

Vice-versa: Suite for Two Trombones. Lomar 1995

Esprit. 1996. Trio for flute, clarinet, piano

Baroque: A Suite for Oboe and English Horn. 1996

String Quartet No. 3, "Why Must the Red Rose Die." 1998. Ms

Partita 2000. 2000. Clarinet, cello, piano, harp. Ms


Sonata for Piano. 1968. Leeds 1975

Canadiana. 1980. 2 piano. Ms. Jubal 5002 (Anagnoson, Kinton)

Voice and Choir

Three Melancholy Songs (E. Bronte). 1966. Sop, piano. Ms. Centrediscs CMC-1183 (Roslak)

Three Chinese Laments (Chinese Book of Songs, transl Robert Payne). 1968. SATB. Presser 1974

The Philosopher in the Kitchen (Brillat-Savarin). 1974. V, orch. Ms

Orpheus (classical authors). 1976. Sop, tenor, narrator, SATB chorus, various instr. Ms

Voices of Earth (traditional, A. Lampman, R.L. Stevenson, J. von Eichendorf, R. Herrick). 1976. Sop, children's chorus, orch. Ms

Three Reflections (St Teresa, transl Longfellow, R. Herrick, Sanskrit transl E.L. Moore). 1977. SATB. Ms

The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway). 1981. Bar, piano. Ms

Of Bells, Birds, and Bees (E. Dickinson). 1985. Sop, alto, piano. Ms

The Jabberwock in Ogden Nash's Dining Room. Women's chorus, percussion ensemble. 1991. Ms

Numerous other works including three early ballets, several works for orch and band (some published by Presser, Peters), chamber ensemble (some published by Tenuto), many for choir (some published by Wat, Music Publishers Holdings, Presser, Schmitt, Lawson Gould), voice. See Contemporary Canadian Composers.

Further Reading