Steve Reich turns 70 in October. A long time ago, I heard a radio broadcast that said Reich and Philip Glass were born on the same day. In reality, Reich was born on Oct. 3, 1936, and Glass followed about three months later on Jan. 31, 1937.
Reich and Glass are the two biggest names in classical composition. Both are credited with refining the minimalism pioneered by Terry Riley and La Monte Young.
When I was first seeking out classical music, I gravitated toward Glass’ more harmonically familiar work. But as my listening abilities matured, I found myself preferring Reich over Glass.
Reich has a nice sense of rhythm and his harmonies, while not atonal, aren’t strictly triadic either. The pulse is an important component to his work, and it’s that pulse — not unlike the muted chug of an electric guitar — that brings listeners in.
Currently playing right now: Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint.
This album won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Composition. I listened to it in high school and didn’t get it. I fell asleep. Seven years and a college degree in music later, I listened to the piece on the drive home, and I was moved.