Once referred to as "the greatest living composer of our time" by the New York Times, Steve Reich was a Pulitzer Prize-winning modern classical composer who also scored big budget Hollywood films. With a ... Read more »
Once referred to as "the greatest living composer of our time" by the New York Times, Steve Reich was a Pulitzer Prize-winning modern classical composer who also scored big budget Hollywood films. With a career that stretched as far back to the early 1960s, it was Reich, along with friends and peers Philip Glass, La Monte Young, and Terry Riley, who in the mid-1960s pioneered the experimental style of music known as minimal music. Reich composed several highly-praised works over the next several decades, most notably "Clapping Music" (1972), "Different Trains" (1988), and "Double Sextet" (2007) (which earned him the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Music) and "WTC 9/11" (2011), an intensely personal piece informed by the panic he and his family felt in lower Manhattan on that terrible day. In addition to his numerous classical compositions, Reich was also a noted film composer, contributing music to the effects-driven blockbuster "The Hunger Games" (2012) as well as scoring several smaller-scale projects. His classical compositions may not be recognized by the masses, but his ability to capture the attention of a mainstream movie audience with his work in Hollywood is just one reason why Steve Reich is one of the most versatile composers of his generation.
Born in New York City at the height of the Great Depression, Reich split his time between New York and California after his parents divorced when he was one. As a member of a musically inclined family -- his mother was the noted Broadway lyricist June Sillman -- Reich began playing piano while still a young boy. He soon developed a proficiency with the instrument, and after graduating with a degree in philosophy from Cornell University in 1957, entered New York's prestigious Juilliard to further his musical education. His tenure at Juilliard was short-lived, however, and Reich enrolled at Mills College in Oakland, CA where he proceeded to earn his masters degree in composition. While living in the Bay Area, Reich became influenced by fellow minimalist composer Terry Riley, and soon began composing his own style of minimalist pieces. Reich eventually became a driving force in minimal music, and over the next several decades, composed some of the style's most lasting compositions, including "Clapping Music," "City Life," and the Pulitzer Prize-winning, "Double Sextet." Already a titan in the world of contemporary classical music, by the 2000s Reich began scoring films. In addition to composing the scores for "The Dying Gaul" (2005), he also contributed to the soundtracks for 2012's dystopian-thriller, "The Hunger Games" and the indie comedy "The Kings of Summer" (2013).