Jean Kleeb

Composer, Pianist, Clavichordist and Choral Director




Jean Kleeb is an accomplished Brazilian composer and an excellent pianist and clavichordist, dedicating his versatile talents to the special aspiration of creating a dialogue between different cultures and time periods. His works for piano, choir and ensembles range from modern music, jazz to world music and have been published by Bärenreiter and Helbling Editions. He published the first Brazilian choir book in Europe and a Brazilian Mass (Missa Brasileira), which has rapidly gained polarity in many countries. His books for piano, Beethoven goes Jazz, Beethoven around the world, Mozart goes Jazz and Classic goes Jazz, Baila Negra and Jazzy Piano were part of Bärenreiters piano albums, and he recently published his South American Piano-Suite Southway.

Based in Germany, Kleeb is a choral director and regularly gives workshops on Brazilian music worldwide. He tours regularly as clavichordist with the Trio Viola da Samba.



What does music mean to you personally?

Music is the essence of my life. I work every day to find the best expression of my music in combination with the world and the people of our time. The spiritual side of music is very important for me, especially the experience after the music is finished, like the echo in a soul.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

For me music is the direct expression of our ideas, fantasies and dreams that we have in our soul, mind and spirit.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

Difficult to say, but I think I would be a gardener. I like to be with plants, trees and flowers in nature.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

Not really. I think the traditional concert form is getting old too, and we must think about new forms to present music and create new rooms for our listeners. Perhaps music in large halls is no longer the only venue to have musical experiences.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I think music is going through a transformation. The role of music is to be connected with different cultures together on a higher level of dialogue.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

I think that creativity is very important for the composer and for the musician. For me creativity is the motor for my compositions. It is a dialogue between my musical experiences, the tradition of the music, and this something “new” that is emerging through the creativity that doesn’t have borders.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

The only way, in my opinion, is to support music education in the schools. Music must be more integrated into society. This is important for all young people, not only young musicians. A few years ago I read a phrase by Confucius: “if one country is not doing well examine their music…” Society has to support music more. It is like a prevention method in order to be able to live in harmony together.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

My creative process begins before I write a single note. I am inspired by ideas from different subjects, like literature, mysticism, symbology and sciences without having a clear goal. After this preparation I begin to work, and my creative process of composing is very clear. One example is my Brazilian Mass (Missa Brasileira) – I had the idea to combine the liturgical mass with Brazilian styles. I started to “travel” with this idea and suddenly knew how it could work.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Yes, I think it is easy today. You can find works on Youtube. For example, you can listen to classical music combined with world music or jazz or visit a crossover concert. Recently I played my albums “Beethoven goes Jazz” and “Beethoven around the world” in a workshop, and the students were then more interested in connecting with Beethoven’s works.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

I am not composing directly for the audience, but I do want people to understand my music. For me it is important to know that people will hear this music that I am writing.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

Now I am composing a Cantata “Ipirungaua” about a legend from the Amazon Forest in Brazil. At the moment it is important for me to be connected with the ecological problems of our planet. I think this will be an important theme for composers in the future.