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Steve Reich

October 3, 1936 -
born in New York, NY, composed during the Contemporary period
A highly influential avant-garde composer and one of the key founders of the minimalist school of music, Reich has embraced a wide variety of musical styles and interests, forging from them a unique synthesis.

Reich took piano lessons as a youngster, but his first big musical revelations came at 14, when he encountered the music of Bach and Stravinsky. He also had his first exposure to bebop, and immediately started learning drums and playing in a jazz band with friends. He played on weekends while studying at Cornell, which he entered at age 16 and where he received a degree in philosophy, specializing in the work of Wittgenstein. In 1957, he entered Juilliard, studying with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti (and meeting fellow student Philip Glass). Here Reich first heard 12-tone music; he got a further dose of it during graduate studies at Mills College in Oakland, working with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud, and eventually earning his master's degree.

At about that time Reich met Terry Riley, who was in the process of writing In C (1964). Reich played in its premiere, and In C's tonal approach and use of repeating patterns had a big influence on Reich's own music. In turn, Reich suggested the use of the eighth note pulse, which is now standard in performance of the piece. Reich had been experimenting with tapes, creating loops of speech and layering them, allowing the layers to move in and out of sync with one another. His early works It's Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) led to similar experiments with live performers, the first of which was Piano Phase for two pianos (1967). Back in New York, Reich and Glass formed an ensemble to perform their music (1968-1971). Several of those players later formed Steve Reich and Musicians, which has toured the world many times over.

In 1970, Reich studied for several weeks at the University of Ghana. His encounter with Ghanaian music and dance inspired his ambitious work Drumming (1970). Encounters with Indonesian gamelan music in 1973-1974 at Seattle and Berkeley were equally significant, and broadened Reich's rhythmic and timbral palette. His most significant composition of the time was Music for 18 Musicians (1974-1976), a large and colorful work which brought Reich worldwide recognition.

In the mid-'70s, Reich started taking Torah classes with his future wife, video artist Beryl Korot. He also studied traditional Jewish cantillation and incorporated it into his psalm settings, Tehillim (1981). Several chamber and orchestral works followed in the 1980s. For Different Trains (1988, a Grammy winner), Reich used a digital sampler to record speaking voices and derived the rhythmic and melodic ideas of the piece from those voices. Reich knew that Different Trains was going to lead to some kind of new documentary form incorporating both video and music. Collaborating with his wife for the first time, the two completed their theater work The Cave in 1993. They continued to explore the combination of music and video with Three Tales (1998-2002).

By the end of the 21st century's first decade, the lasting significance of Reich's music was being recognized worldwide. After 1998's new recording of Music for 18 Musicians won a Grammy, Reich received honorary doctorates and awards from Juilliard, Budapest's Franz Liszt Academy and other schools; the 2007 Polar Music Prize; the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Music (for Double Sextet); and, in 2012, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Music. ~ Chris Morrison, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Steve Reich: WTC 9/11; Mallet Quartet; Dance Patterns

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Track List: Works: 1965-1995

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Track List: Reich: WTC 9/11

Comments

i saw a piece of his played by 2 orchestral bells 2 synths 2 vocals 1 marimba and 1 vibraphone.. . c a n t remember name of piece off top of head but to this day over a decade later its one of the most memorable things ive witnessed
He is just simply gifted and his music is very divine.
Encountered Steve Reich when I was 12 and have been in love with it ever since.
marianthe55
There are some pieces of music that stay with you forever and simultaneous l y every time you listen to it it's like the very first time. Not one for sentimentali t i e s , but Music for 18 Musicians changed something in my aesthetic, maybe not my life but....who knows!
gctindal
The music of Steve Reich always paints some kind of picture in my mind which always seem to fit what I hear.
bmants
Water in the desert.
there's a version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis that employs Reich's "Octet" for the soundtrack. Wow.
What, no Four Organs?
lburris597
Reich has raised my consciousnes s about the relation of Music to the Cosmic Transcendent a l .
wangene.r.r. h a l l
Listening to Reich is a transcendent , out-of-body experience. It is cathartic in nature and inspiration to keep listening to music. Absolutely incredible.
To me, Reich's music delivers transcendent beauty. To see it played live is extraordinar y . I took a friend once who had no idea what he was getting into. He was blown away.
sls2n
wow. beautiful.
To: thebluenotes

I have tried Clapping music. It's easy to learn but deceptively hard to do without getting mixed up. It's a fun little piece for two people to just knock around and get used to learning the concept of Reich's early 'phasing' work. There is a recording of it on his album 'Early Works'
tom4426
I came upon Reich by accident and what a wonderful gift. I love his transitions of change without sounding despirate or trying to recover from a musical alley that is not taking him any further whether by having a brick wall at the end or is just played out. What a joy to find such a musician to start collecting his works. I love Pandora. . .I never know what direction they are going to lead me.
similar artists?
anyone ever try Reich's Clapping Music or Music for Clapping?
johnrappa2
I was so very fortunate to have heard a special performance of Music For 18 Musicians (live in a concert hall). It was the first time I had really paid much attention to the work of Steve Reich.

All I can say is that this experience was completely incredible. Truly a spiritual experience, I believed at one moment that I must have been listening to a transmission from elsewhere. An alien series of emotions not of this world. One of the absolute greatest musical moments of my life.
Eight Lines changed my life...then I heard Music for 18 Musicians and found that the most incredible piece of music I've ever heard. He's a terrific composer and musician!
I love all his music especially music for 18 musicians
Definitely check out "Different Trains" it is one of my favorites.

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