STEVE REICH (1936, New York) studied at Cornell University and attended music courses of William Austin between 1953 – 1957, between 1957 – 1958 he studied privately composition with Hall Overton, between 1957 – 1961 at the Juilliard School of Music with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti, between 1961 – 1963 he continued his graduate studies with Darius Milhaud and Luciano Berio at Mills College, California.
While at Mills College, Reich developed an interest in Asian music, focusing especially on the musical traditions of Bali and Africa. During the summer of 1970, Reich received a grant from the Institute for International Education which allowed him to study drumming at the Institute for African Studies at the University of Ghana in Accra. For the next several years he would focus his attentions on other musical traditions, studying Balinese Semar Pegulingan and Gamelan Gambang at the American Society for Eastern Arts in Seattle and Berkeley, California, and the traditional forms of cantillation (chanting) of the Hebrew scriptures in New York and Jerusalem. In 1966 he founded his own ensemble Steve Reich and His Musicians (comprising three musicians at first), with which he gave concerts and recorded his works. Several noted choreographers have created dances to Steve Reich's music, including Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker (Fase, 1983, set to four early works as well as Drumming, 1998 and Rain set to Music for 18 Musicians), Jiří Kylián (Falling Angels, set to Drumming Part I), Jerome Robbins for the New York City Ballet (Eight Lines) and Laura Dean, who commissioned Sextet. That ballet, entitled Impact, was premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival, and earned Steve Reich and Laura Dean a Bessie Award in 1986. He received commissions from major international festivals, ensembles and orchestras (New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, etc.). In 1994 Steve Reich was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, to the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1995, and, in 1999, awarded Commandeur de l'ordre des Arts et Lettres. The year 2000 brought five additional honors: the Schuman Prize from Columbia University, the Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College, the Regent's Lectureship at the University of California at Berkeley, an honorary doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts and Musical America's Composer of the Year.
Reich has an exclusive recording contract with the Nonesuch label. In 1997, Nonesuch released a ten-disc retrospective box set, Steve Reich Works: 1965 – 1995, comprising both previously released material and new recordings.
Works (selection): The Cave, opera (1993), Three Tales, video opera (video by Beryl Korot), music-theater trilogy: Hindenburg – Bikini – Dolly (1997 – 2002), Pitch Charts for variable instrumentation (1963), It’s Gonna Rain for tape (1965), Come Out for tape (1966), Melodica for tape (1966), Piano Phase for 2 pianos / 2 marimbas (1967), Violin Phase for violin and tape / 4 violins (1967), Pendulum Music for 3 or more microphones, amplifiers, speakers and performers (1968), Pulse Music for phase shifting pulse gate (1969), Four Organs for 4 electronic organs and maracas (1970), Phase Patterns for 4 electronic organs (1970), Drumming for percussion, female voices, whistling and piccolo (1971), Clapping Music for 2 clapping musicians (1972), Six Pianos (1973), Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ (1973), Music for Pieces of Wood for 5 pairs of tuned claves (1973), Music for Eighteen Musicians for ensemble and female voices (1976), Music for a Large Ensemble for ensemble and female voices (1978), Octet for 2 flutes doubling clarinets, 2 pianos and string quartet (1979), Variations for Winds, Strings, and Keyboards (1979), Tehillim for voices and ensemble / chamber orchestra (1981), Vermont Counterpoint for flute and tape / 11 flutes (1982), The Desert Music for choir and orchestra / ensemble (1984), Sextet for percussion and keyboards (1985), New York Counterpoint for clarinet and tape / 11 clarinets (1985), Three Movements for orchestra (1986), Salute for orchestra (1986), The Four Sections for orchestra (1987), Electric Counterpoint for guitar and tape / 13 guitars (1987), Different Trains for string quartet and tape (1988), City Life for ensemble and tape (1995), Proverb for 6 voices, 2 keyboards and 2 percussion (1995), Triple Quartet for amplified string quartet (with pre-recorded tape), or three string quartets, or string orchestra (1998), Know What Is Above You for four women’s voices and 2 percussions (1999), Electric Guitar Phase for electric guitar and pre-recorded tape (2000), Tokyo/Vermont Counterpoint for KAT MIDI mallet and pre-recorded tape (2000), Dance Patterns for 2 xylophones, 2 vibraphones, 2 pianos (2002), Cello Counterpoint for amplified cello and multichannel tape (2003), You Are (Variations) for amplified ensemble and voices (2004).