Steve Reich


"There's just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them"

The Guardian

"...the most original musical thinker of our time"

The New Yorker

Download full biography

Steve Reich has been called “America’s greatest living composer.” (The Village VOICE), “...the most original musical thinker of our time” (The New Yorker) and “...among the great composers of the century” (New York Times).

His music has influenced composers and mainstream musicians all over the world. Music for 18 Musicians and Different Trains have earned him two GRAMMY awards, and in 2009 his Double Sextet won the Pulitzer Prize. His documentary video opera works - The Cave and Three Tales, made in collaboration with video artist Beryl Korot - have been performed on four continents.

In 2012 he was awarded the Gold Medal in Music by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Earlier he won the Preamium Imperale in Tokyo, the Polar Prize in Stockholm, the BBVA Award in Madrid and recently the Golden Lion at the Biennale di Venezia. he has been named Commandeur de l’ordre des Arts et lettres and has been awarded honorary doctorates by the Juilliard School, The Liszt Acadmey in Budapest and the New England Conservatory of Music among others.

His 80th birthday in 2016 was marked with over 400 performances in more than 20 countries across the globe celebrating his music and legacy. Two new works received world premieres in autumn 2016: Pulse by the International Contemporary Ensemble and David Robertson at Carnegie Hall; and Runner at London’s Royal Ballet accompanied by new choreography by Wayne McGregor. Several presenters gave concert series and residencies to honour his anniversary, including Lincoln Center, San Francisco Symphony, the Barbican Centre London, Tokyo Opera City, and Carnegie Hall.

Recent years has seen the premiere of his first major orchestral score in 30 years, Music for Ensemble and Orchestra, by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Susanna Mälkki in 2018 (subsequent performances by London Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Baltic Sea Philharmonic) and a collaboration with renowned artist Gerhard Richter for the opening of The Shed in New York City in April 2019, which explores the shared sensory language of visual art and music. In 2021 his work Traveler's Prayer premiered in Amsterdam with further performances by commissioners in London, Hamburg, Paris, New York, Berkeley California and Tokyo.

“There’s just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them” states The Guardian.

Steve Reich is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

Runner and Music for Ensemble and Orchestra recording (Nonesuch Records)

The fluttering opening to Runner recalls the first section of Different Trains, except that, rather than evocative rumbles and whistles, the music expands into a series of melodic echoes. Mälkki adheres to a constant tempo throughout, allowing the changing rhythmic motifs to drive the music. The similarly propulsive Music for Ensemble and Orchestra is a natural partner to Runner. The use of double vibraphones and double piano gives the music a distinctive Reichian quality; hearing the cell-division unfold across a broad range of timbres is reminiscent of the sound first heard in Music for 18 Musicians

BBC Music Magazine

A welcome opportunity to hear Reich afresh. The performances are crisp and intelligent. Mälki lets the motorised momentum do its natural thing, against which the metamorphosing gradations of colour, the sudden switchbacks in dynamic, the circuitous melodic threads, satisfy their character-forming functions

The Scotsman

Reich / Richter recording

Reich/Richter stands as one of Reich’s most impressive works to date. Reich’s music has fundamentally altered the way we listen, and this latest recording provides further testimony of his ability to shape time in unique and fascinating ways

Gramophone Magazine

Reich/Richter takes the composer’s habitual kaleidoscopic style to its outer limits – with pleasing results. Mesmeric

BBC Music Magazine

The cool, elegant Ensemble Intercontemporain performance reveals Reich/Richter as one of Reich’s most impressive recent works

The Guardian

The more intently you listen, the more subtleties emerge among the shifting, criss-crossing textures and phrases, sometimes coloured with gentle melancholy and Hebrew sighs, but decisively upbeat by the end. Reich/Richter is an ear-tickling tonic and a happy companion to Reich’s valuable newly published book, Conversations.

The Times

This is like the Reich of earlier years, second cousin to the Music for 18 Musicians, though the push and pull of harmony plays a greater role now alongside rhythm and texture. This recording by the Ensemble Intercontemporain led by George Jackson is vivid and tonally rich

Financial Times

The effect is kaleidoscopic, as the music constantly moves and morphs to reveal new shapes, colours and meanings

Uncut Magazine

….a ravishing score, Reich/Richter is one of those recordings that take hold on the listener right from the start and absolutely won’t let go until the echoes of its very last chord have evaporated into deep, meaningful silence

Adventures in Music

Traveler's Prayer

The new work, far from pushing forward in familiar, Reich-style pulsation, had a sense of being suspended in midair, an ancient meditation spun out of looping voices, sustained string chords and the low toll of the piano....Traveler’s Prayer has a quality of serenity. In the preface to the score, Reich writes that these biblical verses can apply to travels by air, car or boat, but “they can also be applied to travel from this world to the next”. Wisely, Reich stayed home in America. May he long make magical, musical journeys in his mind for the benefit of us all.

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer

slowly winding melodies that seemed drawn from a kind of mournful ecstasy. Traveler’s Prayer was conceived before the pandemic but completed in its midst; it was hard not to hear it as shaped by our shared Covid experiences.

Nick Kimberley, London Evening Standard

Although I find myself pining for the presence of Reich's trademark pulse during 'Traveler's Prayer', the piece nevertheless attains a singular beauty, tinged with melancholy. The interplay of voices and the long, sustained tones of stringed instruments produce a sombre, reflective mood which still manages to shine brightly as it resonates in the wonderful acoustics of the RFH.

Sean Kitching, The Quietus

four voices in long sinuous vocal lines, often doubled and coloured by the instrumental ensemble.... (it's) very different from anything Reich has composed before

Andrew Clements, The Guardian

Reich / Richter

At times, sound and image achieve an exhilarating synchronicity, as when stripes are hurtling across the screen and Reich's instruments are racing in parallel motion

The New Yorker

Reminiscent of [Reich's] earliest work, it is very beautiful. As is the film

Financial Times

Steve Reich has responded to the art of Gerhard Richter with a wonderfully lively yet melancholy new composition

The Times

a bewitching collaboration between Reich, the German painter Gerhard Richter and the film-maker Corinna Belz.... all that mattered was the expressive power of music and art speaking as one

The Observer

Reich’s mesmeric minimalism has the power to disrupt time and space; to shimmer and glisten in a way that often paints images.

The Guardian

Music for Ensemble and Orchestra

this is a beautiful and dramatically charged masterpiece, but its impact goes even further than that. The piece is simultaneously retrospective and venturesome. It rests solidly on the stylistic foundations of Reich’s unique musical voice while dashing off in new and daring directions. It combines the assurance of a seasoned master with the restless daring of a young artist. It’s the finest thing he’s done in years.

Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

Best by far was Reich’s new work, Music for Ensemble and Orchestra.... Reich has never lost his intellectual rigour, and this new score is constructed on a foundation of strong principles. As an ensemble of strings, wind, two vibraphones and two pianos converse in an intricate dialogue, the orchestral background opens up a rich and wider soundscape. The work’s multiple layers draw the listener in and do not let go, a rewarding addition to 50 years of minimalism

Richard Fairman, Financial Times

breathtakingly beauteous and perfectly pitched knew only one composer could have written this. Reich is not a composer who, at this point of his celebrated career, needs to reinvent himself. But it is great news to have him back with the orchestra

Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

the music’s delightful dancing wit, and the moving, almost ritualistic calm of the slow movement, shone through

Ivan Hewitt, Daily Telegraph

a vista of shimmering desert stillness

Alex Ross, The New Yorker

Reich, whose first orchestral work for more than 30 years recalls the focussed euphoria of Desert Music in succinct form, with rapt coupling of solo violin, flute and musky clarinets

Anna Picard, The Times

Steve Reich Reviewed in Gramophone

Gramophone Review

James McCarthy reviews Steve Reich in Gramophone (November 2012)

A Guide to Steve Reich’s Music

Tom Service, The Guardian

Tom Service's Guide to Steve Reich's Music in the Guardian

Steve Reich at 80 - previews and profiles

Barbican Centre London, November 2016

Kerry O'Brien reviews Steve Reich in The New York Times

Interview with Rod Stanley in The Times

Interview with David Shariatmadari in The Guardian

Steve Reich’s Discography


Steve Reich’s List of Compositions

List of Compositions - Boosey & Hawkes

List of Compositions - Universal Edition

These photos are available to be downloaded.
Right click on a desired image and select the "Save Link As" option.