Steve ReichAmerican composer. Born 3 October 1936
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 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 said that Reich "may ... be considered, by general acclamation, America's greatest living composer".
- Colin Currie: the 'stratospheric bliss' of Steve Reich's 'Nagoya Marimbas'https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0623g88.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0623g88.jpg2018-03-21T19:37:00.000ZTwo razor-sharp performers playing a quaver apart create incredible textures.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p061w5d3
Colin Currie: the 'stratospheric bliss' of Steve Reich's 'Nagoya Marimbas'
- What do you get when you cross 2 vibraphones, 2 marimbas and a group of percussionists? This mesmeric sound...https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05vgg3k.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05vgg3k.jpg2018-01-19T16:26:00.000ZMembers of the Colin Currie Group perform Steve Reich's Mallett Quartet live on In Tune. Photo: © Chris Gloaghttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p05vg9kp
What do you get when you cross 2 vibraphones, 2 marimbas and a group of percussionists? This mesmeric sound...
- Round of applause for Colin Currie and Sam Walton!https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p051rsy0.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p051rsy0.jpg2017-05-02T17:06:00.000ZThe percussionists introduce and perform Steve Reich's iconic 'Clapping Music' live on In Tune.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p051rqhz
Round of applause for Colin Currie and Sam Walton!
- New Music with Gareth Williams - Steve Reich's Clapping Musichttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04zmsvz.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04zmsvz.jpg2017-04-10T10:57:00.000ZComposer Gareth Williams talks about one of the simplest pieces of classical music ever written, Steve Reich's Clapping musichttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p04zmsc9
New Music with Gareth Williams - Steve Reich's Clapping Music
- Composer Steve Reich in conversation with Roger Hillhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04zcplk.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04zcplk.jpg2017-04-07T14:02:00.000ZAmerica’s most famous living composer Steve Reich in conversation with Roger Hillhttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p04zcnjk
Composer Steve Reich in conversation with Roger Hill
- Fix Ensemble do some Drumming live on In Tune at London's Southbank Centrehttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04b5dvk.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04b5dvk.jpg2016-10-06T15:04:00.000ZFix Ensemble perform part of Steve Reich's Drumming, in the presence of the composer.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p04b5hk0
Fix Ensemble do some Drumming live on In Tune at London's Southbank Centre
- Steve Reich on John Cagehttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p049lllz.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p049lllz.jpg2016-10-02T21:00:00.000ZStuart Maconie chats to Steve Reich.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p049llm7
Steve Reich on John Cage
- 'I thought, what about those trips I took as a kid on the trains?' - Steve Reich on 'Different Trains'https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0493htq.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0493htq.jpg2016-09-26T12:00:00.000ZSteve Reich shares the string of ideas that led to the creation of 'Different Trains'.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p0493hym
'I thought, what about those trips I took as a kid on the trains?' - Steve Reich on 'Different Trains'
- 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.https://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
- 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'https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03qynmz
Modern Muses 16: Steve Reich and Russell Hartenberger
- 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 Supremehttps://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.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p024cght
Steve Reich speaks to Stuart
Steve Reich Tracks
Past BBC Events
Proms 2011: Prom 36: Steve Reich & Ensemble Modern
Latest Steve Reich News
Performances & Interviews from Similar Artists
Rachel Portman: how Philip Glass draws you in
21st Century Opera
Modern Muses 26: Terry Riley and David Harrington
The origins of minimalism
Philip Glass on the urgency he feels to create music
Philip Glass: Façades
Philip Glass: From Symphony No.6 (Plutonian Ode) (2002) – 2nd movement
Philip Glass: From Akhnaten (1983) – Hymn (Act 2 Scene.4)
Philip Glass: From Low Symphony (1992)
Philip Glass: From Koyaanisqatsi (1982) – The Grid