Reich, Steve [Stephen] (Michael)
- Paul Griffiths
(b New York, Oct 3, 1936). American composer. One of the first masters of the repetitive music that emerged in New York in the mid-1960s and was soon branded ‘minimalism’, he has consistently broadened and developed his musical world without compromising the streamlined efficiency and precision of his technique. Repetitive, pulse-driven figures have remained a characteristic, but so have the slips and leaps of a lively mind.
Following the divorce of his parents, Reich's childhood was divided between New York and California, involving him in long rail journeys which he recalled much later in Different Trains. Boyhood piano lessons left little impression; his musical life took off when, at the age of 14, he began studying drumming with Roland Kohloff. At Cornell University (1953–7) his principal study was philosophy, but he also attended William Austin's music course, where he found a congenial view of the subject that jumped from Bach to the 20th century. On returning to New York he devoted himself to composition studies, first privately with Hall Overton (...