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Steve Reich in 2006

Stephen Michael "Steve" Reich (Born October 3, 1936) is an American composer of music in the style of minimalism. He is known for his music made with tape recordings, and instrumental music with a steady beat (such as Music for 18 Musicians).

He also wrote pieces that used what is called a phasing technique. With phasing technique, two parts might be playing the same part but at slightly different speeds. It is almost like a canon, or round. He wrote pieces like these for piano, violin, and, again, for tape recordings.

He also composed such pieces like Different Trains, some of his most popular works. Others include, Drumming, City Life and The Cave.

The critic Kyle Gann has said Reich " considered...America's greatest living composer."


In 2005, Reich was awarded the Edward MacDowell Medal.

Reich was awarded with the Praemium Imperiale Award in Music in October 2006.

On January 25, 2007, Reich was named 2007 recipient of the Polar Music Prize with jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins.

On April 20, 2009, Reich was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Music, recognizing Double Sextet, first performed in Richmond March 26, 2008. The citation called it "a major work that displays an ability to channel an initial burst of energy into a large-scale musical event, built with masterful control and consistently intriguing to the ear".

In May 2011 Steve Reich received an honorary doctorate from the New England Conservatory of Music.

In 2012, Steve Reich received the Gold Medal in Music by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In 2013 Reich received the US$400,000 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in contemporary music for bringing a new conception of music, based on the use of realist elements from the realm of daily life and others drawn from the traditional music of Africa and Asia.

In September 2014, Reich was awarded the "Leone d'Oro" (Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Music) from the Venice Biennale.

In March 2016, Reich was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Royal College of Music in London.



  • Soundtrack for Plastic Haircut, tape (1963)
  • Music for two or more pianos (1964)
  • Livelihood (1964)
  • It's Gonna Rain, tape (1965)
  • Soundtrack for Oh Dem Watermelons, tape (1965)
  • Come Out, tape (1966)
  • Melodica, for melodica and tape (1966)
  • Reed Phase, for soprano saxophone or any other reed instrument and tape, or three reed instruments (1966)
  • Piano Phase for two pianos, or two marimbas (1967)
  • Slow Motion Sound concept piece (1967)
  • Violin Phase for violin and tape or four violins (1967)
  • My Name Is for three tape recorders and performers (1967)
  • Pendulum Music for 3 or 4 microphones, amplifiers and loudspeakers (1968) (revised 1973)
  • Pulse Music for phase shifting pulse gate (1969)
  • Four Log Drums for four log drums and phase shifting pulse gate (1969)
  • Four Organs for four electric organs and maracas (1970)
  • Phase Patterns for four electric organs (1970)
  • Drumming for 4 pairs of tuned bongo drums, 3 marimbas, 3 glockenspiels, 2 female voices, whistling and piccolo (1970/1971)
  • Clapping Music for two musicians clapping (1972)
  • Music for Pieces of Wood for five pairs of tuned claves (1973)
  • Six Pianos (1973) – also arranged as Six Marimbas (1986), adapted as Six Marimbas Counterpoint (2010) and Piano Counterpoint (2011) by the others
  • Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ (1973)
  • Music for 18 Musicians (1974–76)
  • Music for a Large Ensemble (1978, rev. 1979)
  • Octet (1979) – withdrawn in favor of the 1983 revision for slightly larger ensemble, Eight Lines
  • Variations for Winds, Strings and Keyboards for orchestra (1979)
  • Tehillim for voices and ensemble (1981)
  • Vermont Counterpoint for amplified flute and tape (1982)
  • The Desert Music for chorus and orchestra or voices and ensemble (1983, text by William Carlos Williams)
  • Sextet for percussion and keyboards (1984, rev. 1985)
  • New York Counterpoint for amplified clarinet and tape, or 11 clarinets and bass clarinet (1985)
  • Three Movements for orchestra (1986)
  • Electric Counterpoint for electric guitar or amplified acoustic guitar and tape (1987, for Pat Metheny)
  • The Four Sections for orchestra (1987)
  • Different Trains for string quartet and tape (1988)
  • The Cave for four voices, ensemble and video (1993, with Beryl Korot)
  • Duet for two violins and string ensemble (1993, dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin)
  • Nagoya Marimbas for two marimbas (1994)
  • City Life for amplified ensemble (1995)
  • Proverb for voices and ensemble (1995, text by Ludwig Wittgenstein)
  • Triple Quartet for amplified string quartet (with prerecorded tape), or three string quartets, or string orchestra (1998)
  • Know What Is Above You for four women’s voices and 2 tamborims (1999)
  • Three Tales for video projection, five voices and ensemble (1998–2002, with Beryl Korot)
  • Dance Patterns for 2 xylophones, 2 vibraphones and 2 pianos (2002)
  • Cello Counterpoint for amplified cello and multichannel tape (2003)
  • You Are (Variations) for voices and ensemble (2004)
  • For Strings (with Winds and Brass) for orchestra (1987/2004)
  • Variations for Vibes, Pianos, and Strings dance piece for three string quartets, four vibraphones, and two pianos (2005)
  • Daniel Variations for four voices and ensemble (2006)
  • Double Sextet for 2 violins, 2 cellos, 2 pianos, 2 vibraphones, 2 clarinets, 2 flutes or ensemble and pre-recorded tape (2007)
  • 2×5 for 2 drum sets, 2 pianos, 4 electric guitars and 2 bass guitars (2008)
  • Mallet Quartet for 2 marimbas and 2 vibraphones or 4 marimbas (or solo percussion and tape) (2009)
  • WTC 9/11 for string quartet and tape (2010)
  • Finishing the Hat for two pianos (2011)
  • Radio Rewrite for ensemble (2012)
  • Quartet for two vibraphones and two pianos (2013)
  • Pulse for winds, strings, piano and electric bass (2015)
  • Runner for large ensemble (2016)
  • For Bob for piano (2017)
  • Music for Ensemble and Orchestra (2018)
  • Reich/Richter for large ensemble (2019)

Selected discography

  • Live/Electric Music, (Columbia, 1968)
  • Music for 18 Musicians, Ensemble Signal, Brad Lubman harmonia mundi
  • Radio Rewrite, Ensemble Signal, Brad Lubman harmonia mundi
  • Double Sextet, Ensemble Signal, Brad Lubman harmonia mundi
  • Drumming. Steve Reich and Musicians (Two recordings: Deutsche Grammophon and Nonesuch) So Percussion (Cantaloupe)
  • Music for 18 Musicians. Steve Reich and Musicians (Two recordings: ECM and Nonesuch), Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble (Innova), Ensemble Modern (RCA).
  • Octet/Music for a Large Ensemble/Violin Phase. Steve Reich and Musicians (ECM)
  • Variations for Winds, Strings and Keyboards/Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ/ Six Pianos. San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Edo de Waart, Steve Reich & Musicians (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • Tehillim/The Desert Music. Alarm Will Sound and OSSIA, Alan Pierson (Cantaloupe)
  • Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint. Kronos Quartet, Pat Metheny (Nonesuch)
  • You Are (Variations)/Cello Counterpoint. Los Angeles Master Chorale, Grant Gershon, Maya Beiser (Nonesuch)
  • Steve Reich: Works 1965–1995. Various performers (Nonesuch).
  • Daniel Variations, with Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings. London Sinfonietta, Grant Gershon, Alan Pierson (Nonesuch)
  • Double Sextet/2×5, Eighth Blackbird and Bang on a Can (Nonesuch)
  • Piano Phase, transcribed for guitar, Alexandre Gérard (Catapult)
  • Reich Remixed, Nonesuch – 79552-2; 1999
  • Phase to Face, a film documentary about Steve Reich by Eric Darmon & Franck Mallet (EuroArts)
  • Radio Rewrite, Alarm Will Sound, Jonny Greenwood, Vicky Chow (Nonesuch)
  • Pulse – Quartet, International Contemporary Ensemble, Colin Currie Group (Nonesuch)
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