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Steve Reich

From his early taped-speech pieces It’s Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) to his and video artist Beryl Korot’s digital video opera Three Tales (2002), Steve Reich’s path has embraced not only aspects of Western Classical music, but the structures, harmonies, and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular music, particularly jazz.

Born in New York and raised there and in California, Mr. Reich graduated with honors in philosophy from Cornell University in 1957. For the next two years, he studied composition with Hall Overton, and from 1958 to 1961 he studied at The Juilliard School of Music with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. Mr. Reich received his MA in Music from Mills College in 1963, where he worked with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud.

During the summer of 1970, with the help of a grant from the Institute for International Education, Mr. Reich studied drumming at the Institute for African Studies at the University of Ghana in Accra. In 1973 and 1974, he studied Balinese gamelan semar pegulingan and gamelan gambang at the American Society for Eastern Arts in Seattle and Berkeley, California. From 1976 to 1977, he studied the traditional forms of cantillation (chanting) of the Hebrew Scriptures in New York and Jerusalem.

In 1966, Mr. Reich founded his own ensemble of three musicians, which rapidly grew to 18 members or more. Since 1971, Steve Reich and Musicians have frequently toured the world and have the distinction of performing to sold-out houses at venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall and the Bottom Line cabaret.

Mr. Reich’s 1988 piece Different Trains marked a new compositional method, rooted in It’s Gonna Rain and Come Out, in which speech recordings generate the musical material for musical instruments. In 1990, Mr. Reich received a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition for Different Trains as recorded by the Kronos Quartet on the Nonesuch label.

In June 1997, in celebration of Mr. Reich’s 60th birthday, Nonesuch released a 10-CD retrospective box set of Mr. Reich’s compositions, featuring several newly recorded and remastered works. He won a second Grammy Award in 1999 for his piece Music for 18 Musicians, also on Nonesuch. In July 1999, a major retrospective of Mr. Reich’s work was presented by the Lincoln Center Festival. Earlier, in 1988, the South Bank Centre in London mounted a similar series of retrospective concerts.

In 2000, he was awarded the Schuman Prize from Columbia University, the Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College, the Regent’s Lectureship at the University of California at Berkeley, and an honorary doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts; he was also named Composer of the Year by Musical America.

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Multiple Reviews

The Richness of Reich's Repetition

Read "The Richness of Reich's Repetition" reviewed by Scott Gudell

Almost as in deference to the minimalist approach of composer Steve Reich, these two discs distill their titles down to simply Reich / Richter on one and Steve Reich on the other. It's a hint on what's about to come. Reich/Richter Ensemble Intercontemporain Nonesuch Records 2022 Steve Reich, along with other contemporary composers such as Terry Riley and Philip Glass, are the upper echelon of minimalist masters who have defined and shaped ...

Catching Up With

Steve Reich: Humans Love to See Other Humans Play Music

Read "Steve Reich: Humans Love to See Other Humans Play Music" reviewed by Nenad Georgievski

Steve Reich is one of the most significant composers of the late 20th century. During his lengthy career, he has managed both to provoke and console the music world with his trailblazing works. Drawing on aspects of eighteenth-century classical music, Debussy, Stravinsky, jazz music, ethnic and ritual music including musical occurrences and accidents that happen when one uses electronic devices like tape recorders and samplers, Reich has continually fashioned new musical models that have propelled Western music forward. It is ...

Live Review

Ars Ludi al Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

Read "Ars Ludi al Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli" reviewed by Francesca Odilia Bellino

Miti di Musica 2018 -Ritmi del Mito. Piccole drammaturgie per percussioni-attori Ars Ludi Museo Archeologico Nazionale--Sala del Toro Farnese Napoli 14.06.2018 Il primo appuntamento della rassegna estiva dell'associazione Alessandro Scarlatti dedicata ai Miti di Musica ospita Ars Ludi, un ensemble di percussioni d'eccezione che lavora da trent'anni sul repertorio contemporaneo. Ospitato nella sala del Toro Farnese, il concerto si è aperto con un evocativo “Marx Lenin Mao Tse Tung," pezzo scritto nel 2016 ...

Album Review

Steve Reich: Pulse/Quartet

Read "Pulse/Quartet" reviewed by Nenad Georgievski

In 2016, composer Steve Reich celebrated a milestone birthday and to mark the occasion an upward of hundreds of performances of his work were performed at various places around the globe. These performances and celebrations just confirmed the almost unfathomable beauty and timelessness of his oeuvre as they represented 50 years in music. They also confirmed why he is an important part of the contemporary music landscape for many generations and not just in classical music.Apart from revisiting ...

Live Review

Steve Reich @ 80: Music for 18 Musicians

Read "Steve Reich @ 80: Music for 18 Musicians" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

Eighth Blackbird & Third Coast Percussion Hill Auditorium Steve Reich @ 80: Music for 18 Musicians Ann Arbor, MI March 18, 2017 When it comes to contemporary classical music and specifically the genre known as minimalism, few composers lay claim to the accolades bestowed on Steve Reich. Celebrating his 80th year on the planet, Reich's works continue to be performed regularly around the world. In addition to concerts revisiting trinkets from his large oeuvre, ...

New York @ Night

Steve Reich Celebration: Repercussion

Read "Steve Reich Celebration:  Repercussion" reviewed by Peter Jurew

Steve Reich Celebration: Repercussion National Sawdust Brooklyn, NY December 10, 2016 As part of the many celebrations of composer Steve Reich's 80th birthday throughout 2016, the World Music Institute and National Sawdust co-presented a program in December that brought the Ghanaian master, Gideon Alorwoyie, together with the critically-acclaimed Mantra Percussion Ensemble for sixty minutes of riveting music and dance. The back story on this landmark performance begins in the summer ...

Extended Analysis

Steve Reich: The ECM Recordings

Read "Steve Reich: The ECM Recordings" reviewed by Nenad Georgievski

Celebrated as one of the most significant contemporary American composer-musicians of the late 20th century, Steve Reich successfully dismantled the cemented bedrock of Western Music and rebuilt it in surprisingly innovative ways. One of the founders of the Minimalism movement in classical music, he created music that drew on aspects of Balinese, Yemenite, African and Hebrew sounds. In doing so, over the course of 50 years, he continually fashioned new musical models that in return have pushed Western music forward. ...

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