Reich, Steve

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Reich, Steve

Steve Reich (Stephen Michael Reich), 1936–, American composer, b. New York City. A well-known exponent of minimalism, he attended Cornell (B.A., 1957), Juilliard (1958–61), and Mills College (M.A., 1963), where he studied with Darius Milhaud and Luciano Berio. Also influenced by John Cage, he began to create experimental works in the 1960s, showing an interest in electronic and tape-recorded elements. He founded his own ensemble in 1966 and by the late 1960s was composing works based on the almost hypnotic repetition of short modular units of minutely changing chords, tonal progressions, chiming timbres, and steady rhythms. Having studied drumming in childhood, he has retained an interest in percussion and has incorporated such instruments as the Balinese gamelan and Ghanian tribal drums into his compositions. Voice is also an important component of many of his works. Critics have noted that over the years his works have become both more intimate, freer, and more expansive. Reich's compositions include the film score for Plastic Haircut (1963), Drumming (1971), Music for 18 Musicians (1974–76), Tehillim (1981), Different Trains (1988), City Life (1994), Proverb (1995), Triple Quartet (1999), Three Tales (2002), Double Sextet (2006; Pulitzer Prize), and Pulse (2016).

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