• BM, piano performance, Eastman School of Music
  • MM, piano performance and literature, Eastman School of Music
  • PhD, music theory, SUNY Buffalo

Michael Klein serves as Professor of Music Studies; he is also a former Chair of the Department of Music Studies. He has been teaching music theory at Temple University since 1999.

Prior to his appointment at Temple, Klein served as Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the University of Texas at Austin, and as Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In Spring 2012 he spent a semester as Visiting Associate Professor of Music Theory at Indiana University. In Fall 2016 he served as Visiting Professor at Princeton University.

Klein’s research is directed toward critical theory and its applications to understanding music. His publications include two books: Intertextuality in Western Art Music, and Music and the Crises of the Modern Subject (both with Indiana University Press). He is also the co-editor (with Nicholas Reyland) of the collection Music and Narrative since 1900 (IU Press). He has written on a wide variety of topics, including time in the music Debussy (19th-Century Music), narrative in the music of Chopin (Music Theory Spectrum and Journal of Music Theory), affect theory (in the collection Music Analysis and the Body), literature and music (in the collection The Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Music), the music of Liszt (Journal of the American Liszt Society), and the music of Lutosławski (Indiana Theory Review). His current projects include study of the soundtrack, and the idea of posthumanism in music. Klein serves as Associate Editor of the journal 19th-Century Music, and he is a past member of the Executive Board of the Society for Music Theory. He has given lectures throughout the United States and Europe.

Klein has taught a wide variety of courses at the Boyer College including the undergraduate theory sequence, counterpoint, score reading, and the undergraduate theory seminar. At the graduate level, Klein has taught seminars in musical semiotics, music and meaning, musical narrative, musical subjectivity, music and the Freudian tradition, sonata theory, the chamber music of Brahms, and theories of the soundtrack. In 2005 he earned the Lindback Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Klein’s wife, Yu-Hui Tamae Lee, is a freelance violinist, who studied with the renowned teacher Ivan Galamian. His daughter, Lee, teaches English in Okinawa, Japan. The most adorable member of their family is their chow, Pennie. 

Works and Publications 


Music and the Crises of the Modern Subject. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015.

Intertextuality in Western Art Music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005. 

Music and Narrative since 1900, ed. Michael Klein, and Nicholas Reyland. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013).

Journal Articles

“Chopin Fragments: Narrative Voice in the First Ballade,” 19th-Century Music 42/1 (2018): 30-52.

“A Narrative of Dreams: Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie,” Musica Theorica 2/2 (2018), <>.

“Chopin Dreams: the Mazurka in C# Minor, Op. 30, No. 4,” 19th-Century Music 35/3 (2012): 238-60.

“Ironic Narrative, Ironic Reading,” Journal of Music Theory 53/1 (2009): 95–136.

“Debussy’s ‘L’isle joyeuse’ as Musical Assemblage,” 19th-Century Music 31/1 (2007): 28–52.

“The Limits of Interpretation?” Interdisciplinary Studies in Musicology 5 (2005): 121–38.

“Liszt and the Idea of Transcendence,” Journal of the American Liszt Society 54/55/56 (2003–05): 102–24.

“On Authority,” Interdisciplinary Studies in Musicology 4 (2004): 9–31.

“Chopin’s Fourth Ballade as Musical Narrative,” Music Theory Spectrum 26/1 (2004): 23–56.

“Texture, Register, and Their Formal Roles in the Music of Witold Lutosławski,” Indiana Theory Review 20/1 (2001): 37–70.

Chapters in Books

“La Quatrième Ballade de Chopin sous l’angle du récit musical,” in Narratologie musicale : Topiques, théories et stratégies analytiques, ed. Márta Grabócz (Paris: Editions Hermann, 2021).

“Intertextuality and a New Subjectivity," in Intertextuality in Music: Dialogic Composition, ed. Violetta Kostka, Paulo F. de Castro, and William A. Everett (New York: Routledge, 2021), pp. 54-67.

“Intertextuality, Topic Theory, and the Open Text,” in The Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Music, ed. Delia da Sousa Correa (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2020), pp. 16-24.

“Origins and Destinations (A Closing Essay),” in The Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Music, ed. Delia da Sousa Correa (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2020), pp. 681-89. 

“Bodies in Motion: Musical Affect and the Pleasure of Excess,” in Music Analysis and the Body: Experiments, Explorations and Embodiments, ed. Nicholas Reyland, Stacey Sewell, and Rebecca Thumpston (Leuven: Leuven Studies in Musicology, 2018), pp. 155-170.

“Musical Story,” in Music and Narrative since 1900, ed. Michael Klein, and Nicholas Reyland (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013).

“Lutosławski's Partita for Violin and Piano: A New Perspective on His Late Music,” in After Chopin: Essays in Polish Music, ed. Maja Trochimczyk (Los Angeles: Polish Music Center at USC, 2000), 177–202. Reviewed in Notes 58/4: 842–46.

“Lutosławski and the Canon: An Intertextual Study,” in Witold Lutosławski: The Man and His Work from the Perspective of 20th Century Music, ed. Maciej Jablonski (Poznan, Poland: University of Poznan Press, 1999), 53–65.


Review of Chopin and His World (ed. Jonathan D. Bellman, and Halina Goldberg). Music and Letters 101/3 (2020): 591-94.

Review of Kenneth Smith’s Skryabin, Philosophy, and the Music of Desire. Music Analysis 35/1 (2016): 110-18. 

Review of Jim Samson’s Virtuosity and the Musical Work. Journal of the American Liszt Society 58 (2009): 47–54.

Review of Adrian Thomas’s Polish Music Since Szymanowski. 20th-Century Music 4/2 (2008): 266–71.

Review of Christopher Reynolds’s Motives for Allusion. Music Theory Spectrum 28/1 (2006): 111–18.

Review of Barbara Barry’s The Philosopher’s Stone. Music Theory Spectrum 25/1 (2003): 150–8.

Recent Lectures/Presentations

“Chopin's Polonaise-Fantaisie: Narrative, Counternative, and Performance.” Keynote Address for AEMC International Conference on Music, Communication, and Performance (June 2021). Held virtually at Montecassiano, Italy.

“Who Speaks for America’s Apocalypse?: Music in the Literature of Black Americans.” Paper for Roundtable Discussion at: Words, Music, and Marginalisation—6th Biennial Conference of the Word and Music Association Forum (September 2020). Held virtually at the University of St. Andrews. 

“Five Things (Plus or Minus Two) that Lacan Teaches Us About Musical Meaning.” Keynote Address for the Western University Symposium on Music (August 2019); paper also given for Temple University Department of Music Studies Colloquium (September 2019).

“Hinterland Narrative, and the Alterity of Music and the Feminine in The Painted Veil.” Paper delivered at NYU for the Music and the Moving Image conference (peer review) (June 2019). 

Residency at the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester, UK), including: Class on music in Game of Thrones; Graduate-student meeting on my latest publications; Piano Masterclass; and lecture: “The Dream Logic of Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie” as the yearly Michael Kennedy International Research Lecture (February 2019). 

“Chopin the Storyteller.” Invited lecture at the Moores School of Music, University of Houston (March 2018).

Residency at Michigan State University. Public Lecture: “Impossible Narration in Chopin’s First Ballade.” Graduate seminar: on hermeneutics. Undergraduate class: on Schubert’s Impromptu No. 6 in Ab. Piano Workshop: theory an interpretation in piano performance (October 2017).

“Musical Affect and the Pleasures of Excess.” Keynote address delivered at the Rocky Mountain Society for Musicology and Music Theory, The University of Utah (April 2017).

“Impossible Narration in Chopin’s Ballade in G Minor,” Invited lecture at the Eastman School of Music (March 2017); also at Bowling Green University (April 2017).

“Chopin the Storyteller: The Ballade in G Minor, Op. 23.” Invited lecture at Texas State University (March 2016); also at Mannes School of Music (September 2016).