Steve Reich Biography (BBC)
Steve Reich has followed a line of impressive consistency through more than four decades, developing the pulsed iterations of US Minimalism into music of ever greater intricacy and range without loss of excitement. A philosophy major at Cornell (1953–7), he then studied composition at the Juilliard School (1958–61) and with Darius Milhaud and Luciano Berio at Mills College, in the San Francisco Bay Area (1962–3). Remaining there for two more years to work at the Tape Music Center, he returned to New York, which has been his home ever since.
He quickly established his own studio and began giving performances in downtown galleries. His music at this point was based on repetitions in two or more lines drifting apart, an idea that sprang from the effect of loops being played on two tape recorders that gradually got out of phase: hence his use of the word ‘phasing’ for processes of this kind. An essential feature, at first, was that the process should be frankly presented; besides phasing it might be a matter of steadily adding notes to a repeating figure, or taking them away, as in Four Organs (1970).That year he visited Ghana to study drumming, and returned to found his own ensemble based on tuned percussion instruments, Steve Reich and Musicians, with whom he immediately began touring internationally. A little later he studied the percussion-ensemble music of Bali – not in situ this time, but on the USA’s west coast.
Meanwhile his group grew in size. and his music in richness of colour and harmony – a long-range process in itself that began with the classic Drumming (1970–1) and culminated in Music for 18 Musicians (1974–6). The spectacular success of that work, in concert and on record, encouraged him to publish his music, which hitherto he had confined to his own group. He also began to receive orchestral commissions, all the while increasing the subtlety of sound and design within his personal style of repeating modal figures that gain rhythmic vitality from metric ambiguity (generally about the grouping of 12 beats in threes or fours).
In 1976–7 he turned to his own Jewish heritage in studying traditional chanting, a departure that gave rise to Tehillim for women’s voices and small orchestra (1981), setting verses from the psalms. In some works, notably Different Trains for string quartet and electronics (1988), he also brought back a technique from his first tape pieces, of using fragments of recorded speech, now as melodic formulae to be imitated by instruments.
He went on to work with video recordings (by his wife Beryl Korot) in combination with recorded and live music in his two biggest pieces: The Cave (1990–93), a skein of Israeli, Palestinian and US responses to biblical myth, and Three Tales (1998–2002), about the limits and losses of modern technology.
Profile © Paul Griffiths
Steve Reich Biography (Wikipedia)
Stephen Michael Reich (born October 3, 1936) is an American composer who, along with La Monte Young, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass, pioneered minimal music in the mid to late 1960s.
Reich's style of composition influenced many composers and groups. His innovations include using tape loops to create phasing patterns (for example, his early compositions It's Gonna Rain and Come Out), and the use of simple, audible processes to explore musical concepts (for instance, Pendulum Music and Four Organs). These compositions, marked by their use of repetitive figures, slow harmonic rhythm and canons, have significantly influenced contemporary music, especially in the US. Reich's work took on a darker character in the 1980s with the introduction of historical themes as well as themes from his Jewish heritage, notably the Grammy Award-winning Different Trains.
Writing in The Guardian, music critic Andrew Clements suggested that Reich is one of "a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history". The American composer and critic Kyle Gann has claimed that Reich "may...be considered, by general acclamation, America's greatest living composer".
- Video: The Multi-Story Orchestra perform Steve Reich's Music for a Large Ensemblehttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0470qzk.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0470qzk.jpg2016-09-06T14:24:00.000ZThe Multi-Story Orchestra perform Steve Reich's 1978 work in the atmospheric setting of a disused carpark in Peckham, south-east London.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p0470zbc
Video: The Multi-Story Orchestra perform Steve Reich's Music for a Large Ensemble
- The Proms visit Peckham for a concert in a carparkhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0470qs3.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0470qs3.jpg2016-09-06T14:04:00.000ZExclusive behind-the-scenes footage from the Multi-Story Orchestra's Steve Reich Prom, held in a disused Peckham carpark – including a message from the composer himself.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p0470ypv
The Proms visit Peckham for a concert in a carpark
- Steve Reich: Music for a Large Ensemblehttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p046t04n.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p046t04n.jpg2016-09-04T12:59:00.000ZThe Multi-Story Orchestra perform Steve Reich's Music for a Large Ensemble.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p046t05x
Steve Reich: Music for a Large Ensemble
- From rehearsal of The Multi-Story Orchestra playing Steve Reich at Bold Tendencies multi-storey car park in Peckhamhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p046st94.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p046st94.jpg2016-09-04T11:21:00.000ZChristopher Stark and the Multi-Story Orchestra rehearsing for their Proms debut.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p046st9b
From rehearsal of The Multi-Story Orchestra playing Steve Reich at Bold Tendencies multi-storey car park in Peckham
- This is Steve Reich. He likes repetitionhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p046wdj8.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p046wdj8.jpg2016-09-01T17:30:00.000ZSteve Reich's experiments with rhythm & repetition in the 60s laid the groundwork for artists from The Orb to Daft Punk. Music: Electric Counterpoint performed by Pat Metheny.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p046wdqt
This is Steve Reich. He likes repetition
- Reich: Come Outhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03xs80d.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03xs80d.jpg2016-04-21T14:36:00.000ZRob looks at how Steve Reich uses a single loop of sounds in his composition, Come Out.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03xpg9p
Reich: Come Out
- Modern Muses 16: Steve Reich and Russell Hartenbergerhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03qynmw.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03qynmw.jpg2016-04-13T17:24:00.000ZSteve Reich and Russell Hartenberger discuss Reich’s masterpiece 'Drumming'http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03qynmz
Modern Muses 16: Steve Reich and Russell Hartenberger
- Steve Reich in Six Partshttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02szj3b.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02szj3b.jpg2015-06-17T09:00:00.000ZComposer Steve Reich shares his influential journey through music.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p02szj4z
Steve Reich in Six Parts
- The Impact of John Coltrane's A Love Supremehttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02j77l2.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02j77l2.jpg2015-02-03T00:30:00.000ZAlice Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Ashley Kahn, Steve Reich and Evan Parker discuss the impact of John Coltrane's classic album A Love Supremehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p02j77t8
The Impact of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme
- Steve Reich speaks to Stuarthttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p024cggh.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p024cggh.jpg2014-08-07T14:10:00.000ZStuart speaks to the iconic minimalist composer Steve Reich about his most celebrated compositions in an interview recorded in 2006 around Reich's 70th birthday.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p024cght
Steve Reich speaks to Stuart
- How modern classical music got its groove backhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0159p30.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0159p30.jpg2013-02-19T18:10:00.000ZIn the 1960s, american minimalist composers returned harmony and rhythm to music.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p0159p32
How modern classical music got its groove back
Steve Reich Performances