Personalities | Steve Reich | Contemporary | Classical

b. 1936
American composer

Reich studied with Hall Overton (1920–72), Vincent Persichetti (1915–87), William Bergsma (1921–94), Milhaud and Berio. A particular focus of his development was Asian music, especially its rhythmic structures. Much of Reich’s music is characterized by phasing, in which a number of instruments play identical music starting one after the other, giving an echo or canon effect (Clapping Music, 1972). Up to the 1970s, Reich’s music was fairly static harmonically. From the mid-1970s he became more adventurous and Music for 18 Musicians (1976) shifts in its harmonies and uses more complex polyphony. Later works show international influences: Tehillim (1981), based on Hebrew psalms, and Electric Counterpoint (1987), which combines African and jazz influences. His best-known work of the following decade is The Cave (1989–93), which uses video footage and speech. Reich has always had the capacity to generate a striking idea. His Triple Quartet (1999) consists of three movements written for three string quartets. The piece also exists in three separate versions: for quartet and tape, for three quartets and for an orchestra of 36 strings. In 2009 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for Double Sextet (2007).

Recommended Recording:
Different Trains, Electric Counterpoint, Kronos Quartet, Pat Metheny (Nonesuch/Warner)

Introduction | Contemporary | Classical
Personalities | Wolfgang Rihm | Contemporary | Classical


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