American Mavericks

Steve Reich

(b. New York City, October 3 1936)

A founder of minimalism, Steve Reich took a degree in philosophy from Cornell, then studied composition with Hall Overton and at Mills College in Oakland, California with Darius Milhaud and Luciano Berio. At Mills, he became interested in Asian and African music, then went on to study drumming at the University of Ghana and Balinese gamelan with teachers in Seattle and Berkeley. He also studied Hebrew cantillation.

Reich introduced the concept of phasing, “a form of counterpoint produced when two or more instruments play identical repeated material at a given time delay” (in John Adams’s succinct summation). He has produced a body of work that has consistently won the ears of audiences and the approbation of critics.

Since the late 1960s, he has been an influence not just on concert music, but on rock. He has explored the boundaries of multi-media art in such works as the video theater pieces The Cave and Hindenburg. In 2009, his Double Sextet was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music. WTC 9/11, commemorating the attacks of September 11, 2001, was premiered in the spring of 2011.