Steve Reich

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About Steve Reich

Steve Reich is one of the masters of minimalism. His visionary approach to composition put him at the forefront of the avant-garde in the ’60s and ’70s, but eventually his influence became so pervasive that it extended to multiple genres. Born in New York City in 1936, Reich learned piano and drums and became interested in both baroque music and jazz. In the early ’60s, he studied at Mills College, where he learned from radical Italian composer Luciano Berio, among others, and entered the world of experimental composition. He then became involved in the legendary San Francisco Tape Music Center, an avant-garde collective including pioneering composers like Pauline Oliveros and Terry Riley, and he worked on the latter’s groundbreaking minimalist piece In C. By the mid-’60s he was breaking some ground of his own with minimalist tape-loop pieces It’s Gonna Rain and Come Out, with short, repeating spoken-word excerpts layered to striking effect. Reich’s ’70s pieces such as Clapping Music, Drumming, and his masterwork Music for 18 Musicians drew on his percussive background and interest in African and Balinese music, incorporating short musical phrases that interlock as they drift in and out of phase with each other. Besides inspiring a whole new school of minimalism, these works began to influence electronic dance music, New Wave, and more in the ’80s. Reich’s 1988 widely hailed Holocaust-themed “Different Trains” elevated his profile even further. Reich would continue refining his sound well into the 21st century, in a world forever altered by his own innovations.

New York, NY, United States
October 3, 1936
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