Celebrating Steve Reich at 80

NPR offers a brief profile of the “minimalist” composer’s life and career

American composer Steve Reich
American composer Steve Reich
To celebrate his 80th birthday, Anastasia Tsioulcas (NPR) offers an overview of the life and career of Steve Reich, enriched by conversations with the composer himself. She begins by acknowledging the profound influence Reich has held on fellow musicians and composers, from Brian Eno to David Bowie to Radiohead, and as a result the contemporary musical landscape. The legacy of his work can be traced through pop, ambient, and avant-garde music.

In 2011, Tsioulcas talked to Reich about his experimental work “WTC 9/11”, a commemorative piece that “intersperse[s] emergency calls from first responders and air traffic controllers with the recollections of his friends and neighbors”. “WTC 9/11” also records and documents “the recollections of Jewish women who sat with victims’ remains and chanted psalms and other Biblical texts”. Tsioulcas draws attention to Reich’s use of recorded voice in other projects, such as Different Trains, and the complex role that religious faith, specifically Judaism, plays in Reich’s life and work.

“Steve Reich was always attracted to a huge swath of music. He grew up loving classical and jazz in equal measure.”

The article also touches on the way different musical traditions have inspired the composer’s work. Reich is a professed fan of both classical music, and the bebop style of jazz musicians like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. As Reich tells Tsioulcas, he was drawn to “music that had a lot of rhythmic energy, music which was finally harmonic”. [Read the Article]

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