Steve Reich

Composers

Biography

Born: October 3, 1936; New York, NY  
Much though he may dislike the term, and however irrelevant it may be to his more recent music, Steve Reich will forever be identified with the musical style known as Minimalism. Over the years, 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 first encountered the music of Bach and
Read more Stravinsky. He also had his first exposure to bebop, and immediately started learning the drums and playing in a jazz band with friends. He continued to play jazz on weekends while studying at Cornell University, which he entered at age 16 and where he received a degree in philosophy, specializing in the work of Wittgenstein. After leaving Cornell in 1957, he moved to New York and entered the Juilliard School, where he studied with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti (and where he met fellow student Philip Glass for the first time). It was at Juilliard that Reich first heard 12-tone music; he got a further dose of it during graduate studies at Mills College in Oakland, working for three semesters with Luciano Berio and eventually earning his master's degree.

At about that time Reich met Terry Riley, who was in the process of writing and preparing for the first performance of his In C. Reich played in that premiere, and In C's tonal approach and use of repeating patterns had a big influence on Reich's own music. Reich was by that time experimenting with tapes, creating loops of speech and layering them several times over, allowing the layers to move in and out of sync with one another. His early tape 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. It lasted from 1968 to 1971, and 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 those studies into his psalm settings, Tehillim (1981). Several chamber and orchestral works followed in the 1980s. For Different Trains (1988), 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 are continuing to explore the combination of music and video with Three Tales, the first of which, Hindenburg, was completed in 1998. Read less
Browse 1-8 of 8 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Steve Reich: Drumming
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001708502 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Steve Reich
    Performer:  Russ Hartenberger,  Joan La Barbara,  Janice Jarrett,  Jay Clayton  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 2.
    Four Organs Phase Patterns
    Label: Felmay   Catalog: 5018 Release Date: 06/02/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Steve Reich
    Performer:  Philip Glass,  Arthur Murphy,  Steve Reich,  Jon Gibson  ... 
    CD: $22.99
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  • 3.
    Echo 20/21  Reich: Drumming
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000141202 Release Date: 11/11/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Steve Reich
    Performer:  Bob Becker,  Cornelius Cardew,  James Preiss,  Steve Reich  ... 
    CD: $16.99
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  • 4.
    20/21 - Reich: Variations, Six Pianos
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 471591 Release Date: 08/13/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Steve Reich
    Performer:  Bob Becker,  James Preiss,  Steve Reich,  Russ Hartenberger  ... 
    Conductor:  Edo De Waart
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $15.99
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  • 5.
    Artistry - Cage: Three Dances;  Stravinsky, Reich
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 67691 Release Date: 02/12/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Steve Reich,  John Cage
    Performer:  Ralph Grierson,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Roger Kellaway,  Steve Reich  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 6.
    Reich: Music For 18 Musicians
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 821417 Release Date: 04/18/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Steve Reich
    Performer:  Elizabeth Arnold,  Nurit Tilles,  Larry Karush,  Bob Becker  ... 
    Conductor:  Steve Reich
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Steve Reich and Musicians
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  • 7.
    Reich: Tehillim
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 827411 Release Date: 04/18/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Steve Reich
    Performer:  Steve Reich,  Glen Velez,  Virgil Blackwell,  Pamela Wood Ambush  ... 
    Conductor:  George Manahan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Steve Reich and Musicians
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  • 8.
    Reich: Music For 18 Musicians
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 79448 Release Date: 03/31/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Steve Reich
    Performer:  Russ Hartenberger,  Bob Becker,  Marion Beckenstein,  James Preiss  ... 
    Conductor:  Steve Reich
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Steve Reich Ensemble
    On sale! $24.96
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