Josh Levine, Composer

I am an American composer with deep international ties. Born in Corvallis, Oregon in 1959, I originally trained in Basel, Switzerland as a classical guitarist before studying composition there with Balz Trümpy. My participation in performances and recordings with some of Europe’s finest new music players gave me early inspiration and insight into the cornucopia of possibilities and practical hurdles composers face. 

Further studies took me to Guy Reibel at the Paris Conservatory, and, later, IRCAM. I earned my Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, working principally with Brian Ferneyhough. As a dedicated teacher, I have also learned much from my students. I have held extended faculty appointments at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and San Francisco State University, and further taught composition at UCSD, Stanford University, in master classes across the U.S., and as composer in residence at the soundSCAPE Festival in Italy. During the 2015-16 academic year, I am a visiting composition faculty member at the University of Iowa (Fall) and Harvard University (Spring), and will be a Senior Composer at the 2016 June in Buffalo festival.

As a guitarist dedicated to the promotion of contemporary chamber music, I have performed with the Ensemble Contrechamps, the Basle ISCM Ensemble, the Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain, SONOR, and members of the sfSoundgroup in concerts and radio and television broadcasts in Switzerland, France, and the U.S. My playing can be heard on the Innova label in performances of works by Mark Applebaum and Kristian Ireland.

International juries have recognized my music with several awards, among them a First Prize and a Euphonie d’0r at the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition. I have received commissions from prominent new music soloists and ensembles including Magnus Andersson, Aiyun Huang, Marcus Weiss, Jürg Wyttenbach, Tony Arnold and the JACK Quartet, the soundSCAPE Trio, Calliope Duo, Ensemble Contrechamps, Les Solistes de l’Ensemble Intercontemporain, and the Ensemble Intercontemporain under David Robertson. Numerous other exemplary musicians have performed my work in venues ranging from IRCAM and the Cité de la Musique in Paris to Merkin Hall in New York, from festivals in Melbourne and Los Angeles to the World New Music Days in Stockholm. Commercial releases of several of my pieces can be heard on the harmonia mundi-Le Chant du Monde and New Focus Recordings labels.


“Arresting” (American Record Guide)


“One wants to listen to every note” (Le Monde de la Musique)


 “…perhaps the strongest work of the evening…its hushed, pin-drop subtlety…demanded close scrutiny and rewarded the listener with an eerie delicacy.” (Los Angeles Times)


“…compelling…an emotional little work, full of sadness and longing” (
“…the whole body contributes to the listening experience…Levine offered a setting to encourage heightened awareness…The journey was a brief one, but it was also thoroughly memorable.” (


“Writing solely for these instruments is like trying to write a novel using only the words boomthud, and ting, yet Levine brilliantly made the most of their limitations.” (San Francisco Classical Voice)