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Lothar Klein

LOTHAR KARL KLEIN (b. Jan. 27, 1932 - d. Jan. 3, 2004)

    "Song is vital to my musical makeup. Intensity must be a glowing delight. Emotional experience and song must become lyrically entwined."

Lothar Karl Klein was born in Hanover, Germany. By age 12, he was already an excellent pianist. From the time he was a young boy he was attracted to symphonic music. His parents, Victor and Mary, encouraged him to pursue his talents although they were not very musical themselves.

In 1939, on the day Germany invaded Poland, the Klein family left their native country and moved to England. In 1940, they travelled across the Atlantic to the United States and settled in Minneapolis, Minn., where his father found work as an electrician.

Lothar received a diversified education, which included studies in philosophy and literature, piano with Olga Samaroff-Stokowsky, and culminated in 1961 with a Ph.D. degree in Musicology and Composition from the University of Minnesota, where his compositional efforts were encouraged by Dimitri Mitropoulos and Antal Dorati and Goffretto Petrassi. He also studied with leading exponents of the avant-garde, including Boris Blacher and Luigi Nono.

From early in his creative career Lothar Klein was writing works for the stage and for films, earning him the Golden Reel Award from the American Academy of Film Sciences by 1956. His studies led him to a Fullbright Fellowship by 1958, pointing him to several teaching positions, first with Berlin's Hochschule fur Muzik and later with the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas and, the University of Toronto. Klein's compositions won him two Rockerfeller New Music (in 1965 and 1967), and the Floyd S. Chalmers Performing Arts Creation Award in 1982.

In 1970 Lothar Klein had settled in Toronto. As a familiar figure to two generations of music faculty students at the University of Toronto, he was noted for the personal attention that he gave, especially to his graduate students. It was often said that he didn't so much teach as challenge.

In addition to being a contemporary composer and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, Dr. Klein was also a prolific writer of words, publishing articles for the MENC Journal, Canadian Forum, The Composer and for CBC Radio.

His last CD (2003) called The Philosopher in the Kitchen, Dr. Klein based his first piece on French epicure and gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's celebrated work Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante (The Physiology of Taste or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy), published in the 1820s. The piece was commissioned by the CBC in 1975 and written for the Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester.

Almost half of Dr. Klein's compositions were vocal music. In the jacket of the CD, he outlined his approach to writing such music: "I love the human voice, yet cannot take interest in the art-song unless the co-ordinates of text, historical tone, and an equivalent musical language exist authentically together. Co-existence, of course, is not enough, for each must reflect the other, flourish and thrive.

    "The poetics of different musical traditions seemed to interest Lothar Klein more than the novelties of contemporary techniques, although his style was certainly contemporary. All of Klein's works, whether light or serious, attempted to find parallel points of reference between old and new music, and thereby commented on music's historical continuity. He maintained an aesthetic distinction between a sacred and a secular manner in his music. His collage compositions, based on pre-existent older music, bridged differences of time and culture, and offered a rich source for stylistic analysis. These works, in which labels like "conservative" and "avant-garde" lost their meaning, presented an aural and intellectual fusion of styles, uniting past and present."
    Hanns-Bertold Diet,1988
    PROCAN, Canadian League of Composers


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Canadian Music Centre