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Steve Reich

A highly influential avant-garde composer and one of the key founders of the minimalist school of music, Steve 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.

In 2016, as Reich celebrated his 80th birthday, he continued to debut new material -- Pulse, a composition for winds, strings, piano, and electric bass, premiered at New York's Carnegie Hall as part of a special birthday concert on November 1, 2016, while Runner, a dance piece for winds, percussion, pianos, and strings, was introduced by London's Royal Ballet less than two weeks later, on November 10. ~ Chris Morrison
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Radio Rewrite

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Track List: Reich: The Four Sections, Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ

1. The Four Sections - I. Strings (with Winds and Brass)

2. The Four Sections - II. Percussion

3. The Four Sections - III. Winds and Brass (with Strings)

4. The Four Sections - IV. Full Orchestra

5. Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ

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Track List: 2x5 (Remixed)

1. 2x5 III. Fast (Dominique Leone Version)

2. 2x5 III. Fast (Vakula Version)

3. 2x5 III. Fast (David Minnick Version)

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Track List: Double Sextet/2x5

1. Double Sextet: I. Fast

2. Double Sextet: II. Slow

3. Double Sextet: III. Fast

4. 2x5: I. Fast

5. 2x5: II. Slow

6. 2x5: III. Fast

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Track List: Daniel Variations

1. Daniel Variations: I Saw A Dream

2. Daniel Variations: My Name Is Daniel Pearl (I'm A Jewish American From Encino California)

3. Daniel Variations: Let The Dream Fall Back On The Dreaded

4. Daniel Variations: I Sure Hope Gabriel Likes My Music, When The Day Is Done

5. Variations For Vibes, Pianos, And Strings: Fast

6. Variations For Vibes, Pianos, And Strings: Slow

7. Variations For Vibes, Pianos, And Strings: Fast

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Track List: Reich: Remixed 2006

1. Drumming (Four Tet Remix)

2. Proverb (Alex Smoke Remix)

3. Music For 18 Musicians (Ruoho Ruotsi's Pulse Section Dub Remix)

4. Come Out (1966)

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Track List: Tehillim/Three Movements

1. Tehillim - Part I (Fast)

2. Tehillim - Part II (Fast)

3. Tehillim - Part III (Slow)

4. Tehillim - Part IV (Fast)

5. Three Movements - Movement I

6. Three Movements - Movement II

7. Three Movements - Movement III

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Track List: Sextet / Six Marimbas

1. Sextet: 1st Movement

2. Sextet: 2nd Movement

3. Sextet: 3rd Movement

4. Sextet: 4th Movement

5. Sextet: 5th Movement

6. Six Marimbas

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Track List: Works 1965-1995

1. Come Out (1966)

3. It's Gonna Rain, Part I (1965)

4. It's Gonna Rain, Part II (1965)

6. Drumming: Part I

7. Drumming: Part II

8. Drumming: Part III

9. Drumming: Part IV

10. Music For Mallet Instruments, Voices And Organ

13. Music For 18 Musicians: Pulses

14. Music For 18 Musicians: Section I

15. Music For 18 Musicians: Section II

16. Music For 18 Musicians: Section IIIA

17. Music For 18 Musicians: Section IIIB

18. Music For 18 Musicians: Section IV

19. Music For 18 Musicians: Section V

20. Music For 18 Musicians: Section VI

21. Music For 18 Musicians: Section VII

22. Music For 18 Musicians: Section VIII

23. Music For 18 Musicians: Section IX

24. Music For 18 Musicians: Section X

25. Music For 18 Musicians: Section XI

26. Music For 18 Musicians: Pulses

27. Eight Lines (Octet 1979)

28. Tehillim - Part I (Fast)

29. Tehillim - Part II (Fast)

30. Tehillim - Part III (Slow)

31. Tehillim - Part IV (Fast)

32. The Desert Music: First Movement (Fast)

33. The Desert Music: Second Movement (Moderate)

34. The Desert Music: Third Movement Part One (Slow)

35. The Desert Music: Third Movement Part Two (Moderate)

36. The Desert Music: Third Movement Part Three (Slow)

37. The Desert Music: Fourth Movement (Moderate)

38. The Desert Music: Fifth Movement (Fast)

39. New York Counterpoint: Fast

40. New York Counterpoint: Slow

41. New York Counterpoint: Fast

47. The Four Sections - I. Strings (With Winds And Brass)

48. The Four Sections - II. Percussion

49. The Four Sections - III. Winds And Brass (With Strings)

50. The Four Sections - IV. Full Orchestra

51. Different Trains - America-Before The War [Movement 1]

52. Different Trains - Europe-During The War [Movement 2]

53. Different Trains - After The War [Movement 3]

54. Electric Counterpoint - Fast (Movement 1)

55. Electric Counterpoint - Slow (Movement 2)

56. Electric Counterpoint - Fast (Movement 3)

77. Proverb

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Track List: Early Works

1. Come Out (1966)

2. Piano Phase (1967)

3. Clapping Music (1972)

4. It's Gonna Rain, Part I (1965)

5. It's Gonna Rain, Part II (1965)

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Track List: Three Tales

1. Hindenburg: Nibelung Zeppelin

2. Hindenburg: A Very Impressive Thing To See

3. Hindenburg: I Couldn't Understand It

4. Bikini: In The Air - 1

5. Bikini: The Atoll - 1

6. Bikini: On The Ships - 1

7. Bikini: In The Air - 2

8. Bikini: The Atoll - 2

9. Bikini: On The Ships - 2

10. Bikini: In The Air - 3

11. Bikini: The Atoll - 3

12. Bikini: On The Ships - 3

13. Bikini: Coda

14. Dolly: Cloning

15. Dolly: Dolly

16. Dolly: Human Body Machine

17. Dolly: Darwin

18. Dolly: Interlude

19. Dolly: Robot/Cyborgs/Immortality

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Track List: The Cave

1. Act 1 - Typing Music (Genesis XVI)

2. Act 1 - Who Is Abraham?

3. Act 1 - Genesis XII

4. Act 1 - Who Is Sarah?

5. Act 1 - Who Is Hagar?

6. Act 1 - Typing Music Repeat

7. Act 1 - Who Is Ishmael?

8. Act 1 - Genesis XVIII

9. Act 1 - Who Is Isaac?

10. Act 1 - Genesis XXI

11. Act 1 - The Casting Out Of Ishmael And Hagar

12. Act 1 - Machpelah Commentary

13. Act 1 - Genesis XXV

14. Act 1 - Interior Of The Cave

15. Act 2 - Surah 3

16. Act 2 - Who Is Ibrahim?

17. Act 2 - Who Is Hajar?

18. Act 2 - The Near Sacrifice

19. Act 2 - El Khalil Commentary

20. Act 2 - Interior Of The Cave

21. Act 3 - Who Is Abrahm?

22. Act 3 - Who Is Sarah?

23. Act 3 - Who Is Hagar?

24. Act 3 - Who Is Ishmael?

25. Act 3 - The Binding Of Isaac

26. Act 3 - The Cave Of Machpelah

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Track List: Proverb / Nagoya Marimba / City Life

1. Proverb

2. Nagoya Marimba

3. City Life - Check It Out (movement 1)

4. City Life - Pile Driver/Alarms (movement 2)

5. City Life - It's Been a Honeymoon-Can't Take no Mo' (movement 3)

6. City Life - Heartbeats/Boats & Buoys (movement 4)

7. City Life - Heavy Smoke (movement 5)

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Track List: The Four Sections / Music For Mallet Instruments, Voices And Organ

1. The Four Sections - I. Strings (With Winds And Brass)

2. The Four Sections - II. Percussion

3. The Four Sections - III. Winds And Brass (With Strings)

4. The Four Sections - IV. Full Orchestra

x

Track List: The Desert Music

1. The Desert Music: First Movement (Fast)

2. The Desert Music: Second Movement (Moderate)

3. The Desert Music: Third Movement Part One (Slow)

4. The Desert Music: Third Movement Part Two (Moderate)

5. The Desert Music: Third Movement Part Three (Slow)

6. The Desert Music: Fourth Movement (Moderate)

7. The Desert Music: Fifth Movement (Fast)

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Track List: Triple Quartet

1. Triple Quartet: First Movement

2. Triple Quartet: Second Movement

3. Triple Quartet: Third Movement

4. Electric Guitar Phase

5. Music For A Large Ensemble

6. Tokyo/Vermont Counterpoint

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Track List: Reich Remixed

1. Music For 18 Musicians (Coldcut Remix)

2. Eight Lines (Howie B Remix)

3. The Four Sections (Andrea Parker Remix)

4. Megamix (Tranquility Bass Remix)

5. Drumming (Mantronik Maximum Drum Formula)

6. Proverb (Nobukazu Takemura Remix)

7. Piano Phase (D*Note's Phased & Konfused Mix)

8. City Life (DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid Open Circuit)

9. Come Out (Ken Ishii Remix)

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Track List: Four Organs: Phase Patterns

1. Four Organs

2. Phase Patterns

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