From his early taped-speech pieces It’s Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) to his and video artist Beryl Korot’s digital video opera Three Tales (2002), Steve Reich’s path has embraced not only aspects of Western Classical music, but the structures, harmonies, and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular music, particularly jazz.
Born in New York and raised there and in California, Mr. Reich graduated with honors in philosophy from Cornell University in 1957. For the next two years, he studied composition with Hall Overton, and from 1958 to 1961 he studied at The Juilliard School of Music with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. Mr. Reich received his MA in Music from Mills College in 1963, where he worked with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud.
During the summer of 1970, with the help of a grant from the Institute for International Education, Mr. Reich studied drumming at the Institute for African Studies at the University of Ghana in Accra. In 1973 and 1974, he studied Balinese gamelan semar pegulingan and gamelan gambang at the American Society for Eastern Arts in Seattle and Berkeley, California. From 1976 to 1977, he studied the traditional forms of cantillation (chanting) of the Hebrew Scriptures in New York and Jerusalem.
In 1966, Mr. Reich founded his own ensemble of three musicians, which rapidly grew to 18 members or more. Since 1971, Steve Reich and Musicians have frequently toured the world and have the distinction of performing to sold-out houses at venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall and the Bottom Line cabaret.