Steve Reich (1936– )

How to say the name:

‘Reich’ is said like Rike. ‘Steve’ is easy to say!


3rd October 1936 in New York, New York, USA.

Type of Music:

Modern classical music. However his music is better described as minimalist. Minimalist music is made up of short bits of music (phrases) that repeat over and over again. (See also Philip Glass.)

A famous piece:
  • Drumming. (See below for a video of the beginning of this piece.)

The music of this piece isn’t very well known. ‘Drumming’ is more famous for its reputation. It is simply an hour to an hour and a half of hitting drums, xylophones and other such intruments—with other things, such as whistling, thrown in sometimes!!

Some great pieces:
  • Drumming.
  • Music for 18 Musicians. (See below for a video of the beginning of this piece.)
  • Different Trains.
  • The Cave (an opera).
  • Double Sextet.
Some interesting facts:
  • Many people say he is the greatest living American composer.
  • Many people also say he has changed the course of musical history.
  • He more or less invented ‘minimalist’ music. He is certainly the one of the main people to create the idea of minimalist music (as is Philip Glass).
  • His music is influenced by jazz, as well as classical music.
  • When he first started composing many people thought his music was crazy. He had to work as a taxi driver and a social worker to earn a living.
  • He formed his own music group, Steve Reich and Musicians (also called the Steve Reich Ensemble), to play his music.
  • He went to Ghana in 1971 to learn more about African drumming. When he came back he composed ‘Drumming’.
  • His music is now very popular. Many people who listen to his music wouldn’t normally listen to classical music.
  • His music has influenced many musicians, including rock bands.
  • He has also worked with all sorts of musicians, including rock bands.
Official Website

Here is a video of the beginning of Steve Reich’s Drumming. Notice how the drumming keeps changing little by little. Although the music is just drumming, if you stay watching you will see that it eventually becomes very exciting.

The beginning of Steve Reich’s ‘Drumming’

And here is a video of the beginning of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians.

The beginning of Steve Reich’s ‘Music for 18 Musicians’

Finally, here is Steve Reich in person talking about composing some Rock and Roll music!

Steve Reich himself talking about composing some Rock and Roll music!

There is another video of music by Steve Reich on the following news page:

Picture credits:
  1. Steve Reich. This photograph was taken by Ian Oliver on 8th September 2006. It is part of a bigger photograph of Steve Reich and another person performing Reich’s ‘Clapping Music’ (by the way, you can see a video of this piece on the One Week—Three Great Live Music Events news page). The bigger image and the smaller one here may be used freely providing one credits the photographer. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
Video credits:
  1. Drumming Part 1 – Steve Reich [ Ensemble 64.8 ]. Drumming Part 1 – Steve Reich [ Ensemble 64.8 ].
  2. Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich – Beginning. Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich. First 10 minutes. Performed at Music08 Concert 13 on June 21, 2008.
  3. Steve Reich Does Rock & Roll. The radio station WNYC radio who posted this on YouTube on 9th December 2009 writes: The classical composer explains why his next project may raise some eyebrows.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Megan 20th February 2012

Very good lay out, found it easy to find my way around. Liked the facts. They are very useful for fact files.

2 Chika 26th February 2012

Very good, but need to be more detailed

3 K Gullings 29th February 2012

Thanks for hosting this info! FYI, Reich actually has a “sh” sound at the end, not “k”, according to his Wiki:

4 Isha x 8th July 2012

Thanks a lot for this, it really helped me.

5 Hannah 6th November 2012

Thank very much you saved me from getting a detentionmand the videos are really helpfull the best one is where there is 18 musiciansand the person on the piano keeps there note all the way through and i love where it drows out a bit then comes back in still carring on with the beat congrats to them and thank you for this fact file

6 tegan georgina 13th May 2013

the music wont stop on youtube video how can i stop this?
thank you for this information

7 Malcolm Pullan 13th May 2013

You can stop the music by clicking the same button that you clicked to start the music.

8 bethany 17th January 2014

it helped me so much writing my biography on Steve Reich. it could do to be a bit more eye catching and fun to look at.

9 halo 2nd February 2015

this is cool 🙂

10 Krish Patel 10th February 2016


11 elena 3rd March 2016

it is really good rate **** stars

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