Steve Reich has been recognised internationally as one of the world's foremost living
composers. Born in New York (1936) and raised there and in California, Mr Reich
graduated with honors in Philosophy (specializing in Wittgenstein) from Cornell
University in 1957.
Over the following two years he studied with Hall Overton, and then went on to the
famous Juilliard School of Music with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. Next
came the Mills College in 1963, where he worked with Darius Milhaud and Luciano
Inspired, Reich spent the next two years experimenting with tape music, moving identical
tape loops gradually out of synchronisation. This enabled the listener to be aware
of the process of composition and reduced the music to basic elements.
In 1966 Reich returned to New York, Created his second tape loop piece Come Out
and Steve Reich and Musicians. It was at this time that he began applying the principles
of phasing during live performances - a technique heard in works such as Piano Phase,
Violin Phase and Four Organs .
In 1970, Reich travelled to Ghana to study with a master drummer of the Ewe tribe,
an experience that led to his tour de force of phasing: the 85-minute "Drumming"
which has been called "one of the masterpieces of the minimal genre".
Steve Reich gained international acclaim, while still in his 20s as the inventor
of 'phase music' - a new form, comprising repeated phases of the music in which
slight tempo shifts between parts cause fantastical, hypnotic patterns.
Reich built on his early successes, creating an original and influential style that
incorporates such diverse musical inspirations as African drumming, Bach, Bartok
and jazz. His work has been described by critic Nicholas Kenyon of the UK Observer
newspaper as "full of colour, change, textural variety and nuance".