The celebrated, award-winning American composer Steve Reich, a pioneer of Minimalism, is deemed one of the most influential contemporary musical figures. He was given piano lessons as a child and at the age 14 began studying music in earnest. He took drums lessons to play jazz. After completing studies of philosophy and music at Cornell University, he attended the Juilliard School, before enrolling at Mills College in Oakland. Generally considered America’s greatest living composer, he has invented a number of novel techniques, inspiring many music creators and groups. Reich has often cited J. S. Bach, Bartók, Debussy, Schnittke and Stravinsky, yet the formation of his style was also influenced by jazz, particularly the vocalists Ella Fitzerald and Alfred Deller, as well as West African music, which he also studied in Ghana.
In the 1990s, Reich and his wife, the video artist Beryl Korot, created the operas The Cave and Three Tales. The former explores the roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the latter focuses on the Hindenburg airship disaster, nuclear arms testing and other modern-time concerns, specifically cloning. Reich’s best-known works include Music for 18 Musicians, Tehillim, Clapping Music, Drumming, Different Trains, The Desert Music and Triple Quartet.
He has received multiple awards, including the Edward MacDowell Medal, the Polar Music Prize and the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Reich is the holder of honorary doctorates from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and the Royal College of Music in London. In 2014, he received at the La Biennale di Venezia the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Music.