Tributes from Colleagues and Friends

Each Day a New Tribute Revealed as Part of the Maximum Reich Advent Calendar

Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 12:00 AM

Steve Reich has taken over our website. For each of the seven (plus one) days of Maximum Reich, Q2 Music reveals a new portrait of Reich from those with deeply personal connections to the man and his music.

Each post offers a privileged insight into the legacy of Steve Reich. We hear from fellow composers, devoted musicians and Grammy-winning ensembles, conductors and a former member of Steve Reich and Musicians. Check back in each day, as we light another candle of tribute to this icon of contemporary music.  

David LangThursday, December 10th

David Lang, composer

One of my high-school jobs was as a stock boy in a classical music record store. A perk of this job was that I got great discounts on records... More »

Nico MuhlyFriday, December 11th

Nico Muhly, composer

Writing about Steve Reich’s music feels like writing about a family member or a childhood friend: there are too many stories... More »

Lee RanaldoSaturday, December 12th 

Lee Ranaldo, member of Sonic Youth

Steve Reich’s music first came to my attention during my university years in the mid '70s. I was beginning to find my own way into a life in music... More »

Evan ZiporynSunday, December 13th

Evan Ziporyn, composer / member of Steve Reich and Musicians

I'm not a first -- or even second -- generation Reichian: I was still in grade school in the late '60s when the Bob, Russ, etc. were taking the bus... More »

Brad LubmanMonday, December 14th

Brad Lubman, conductor

I first met Steve Reich in January 1995. Bang on a Can had started a chamber orchestra for which I was the conductor... More »

Tuesday, December 15th

So Percussion, New York-based new music ensemble

The members of So Percussion spend a lot of time and energy performing Steve Reich’s music. His contributions to percussion music loom... More »

Maya BeiserWednesday, December 16th

Maya Beiser, cellist

Steve Reich once told me: “The musicians who can play my music with the right rhythmical feel are being born now…” More »

David HarringonThursday, December 17th

David Harrington, violinist / Artistic Director, Kronos Quartet

1985 (I guess it must’ve been) was the first time I sat down with Steve Reich to ask him to write for Kronos... More »

Eighth BlackbirdBONUS post

eighth blackbird, new music ensemble

Steve Reich has graciously allowed me to share a few emails from his correspondence with eighth blackbird... More »


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Comments [36]

In order to facilitate constructive conversations surrounding the intended topic of the blog, we have removed comments that contained personal attacks. Subsequent replies were also removed.

We appreciate your cooperation in maintaining a healthy environment for debate and we encourage you to read our Comment Guidelines ( before posting.

Dec. 17 2009 09:59 AM
Frank Feldman

Thank you, Steve, for all you've done for harmony, counterpoint, melody, Jewish literature, crass commercialization, meeting the masses where they live and making Phil's life complete.

Dec. 16 2009 10:42 PM
Gordon Lang-Kelly from Milano, Italy


Thank You mr. Steve Reich.
Thank You.

I first heard your 18Musicians in high school in NYC on WNYC when i got there from Italy in 1978; you changed my world . I later went to see you with my father at Columbia University, and blew his world away too.

That was a "teachable moment", for both of us as a individuals and as a father and son.

Thank You ; Gordon Lange-Kelly

Dec. 16 2009 08:44 PM
Frank Feldman

I give up. Since WQXR doesn't respect my or anyone else's right to an opinion, I must conclude, along with several others below, that Steve Reich must indeed be a genius. QED

Dec. 14 2009 07:20 PM

Reich is da bomb, you guys are a bunch of nerds. Who could compose better than him, besides Phillip Glass? I mean, come on, you guys gotta be kidding. No one wants to hear all that high-brow crap except professors.

Dec. 13 2009 07:10 PM

Are there any current-day composers of symphonic or concert music that gain your respect?

Dec. 13 2009 02:31 PM
Frank Feldman

Hey, look, if I'm coming off as a snob, I'm sure some of Paul McCartney's and Joni Mitchell's tunes will be remembered for long after Reich and Glass take their rightful non-existent place in music history.

Dec. 13 2009 01:56 PM
Frank Feldman

Byrd, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner, Wagner with enormous reservations, the later Richard Strauss, Berg with reservations, a few late Webern pieces; Richard Rodgers, Harold Arlen, George Gershwin (songs only, not symphonic pieces), Julie Styne, etc. Which doesn't begin to address my admiration for many jazz musicians (you know, real musicians, who can play and improvise and actually compose).

Dec. 13 2009 01:52 PM

No one has called you a chicken, but it would be illuminating, seeing what you think a rotten egg is, to know what you think a good egg is. What are a some of your favorites?

Dec. 13 2009 01:16 PM
Frank Feldman

I sense your being facetious, Amelia. Am I wrong? I am certainly not a great composer. But you don't need to be a hen to spot a rotten egg.

Dec. 13 2009 12:38 PM

Frank, you are clearly a very sophisticated man, and, more than that, a real man whose knowledge of real composers could benefit many of these fools. Who among the real composers would you suggest these imbeciles look to for a model of real music making?

Dec. 13 2009 11:53 AM

Ah, sockpuppets in love....

Dec. 13 2009 09:45 AM

You guys are a bunch of eggheads. Is it cool or isn't it? Reich is cool, 20th century classical music is totally uncool. People like Reich, they don't like egghead music. I dig cool stuff, Reich, Aerosmith, Lady Gaga, stuff that people really WANT to listen to. I don't want to study, I want to just GET IT, ENJOY IT, maybe even party to it. You guys sound like university stiffs. Get a life.

Dec. 12 2009 06:01 PM

Frank Feldman, I worship you.

Dec. 12 2009 05:42 PM
Frank Feldman

I'm sure you will agree, in your infinite wisdom, that there is room for disagreement in this area. Sophisticated jazz musicians don't take seriously the claims of those professing to have been influenced by the music, but who show no evidence of same in their melodies, harmonies, rhythms, counterpoint, etc. Anyone can make such claims, and Reich is free to do so. Phillip Glass can claim his music has been harmonically influenced by Debussy and Scriabin if he wants to. What we have here is the Mannheim School of the mid-18th century. A reaction to the excesses of the Baroque, a puerile music that needed a C.P.E. Bach, a Haydn and Mozart to pull it into the world of greatness. Part of their doing so involved studying the musics of earlier periods, particularly the most recent, that of G.F. Handel and J.S. Bach. Mozart and Haydn cloistered themselves away with scores of Bach. Whom did Reich and Glass study? The harmonies of Black Sabbath? The counterpoint of Terry Riley? Garbage in, garbage out, I always say. John Adams is light years ahead of either of them. I freely admit I don't care for his music, but I also freely admit he is a REAL COMPOSER, who has thought long and deeply about music. And when he says he has been influenced by Bill Evans and Takemitsu, for example, lo and behold, one can discern their influences! What I hear in this forum is not close-mindedness. Rather I hear people who have not come to grips with music history and are hellbent on never doing so. Musical history suggests that there's never been a worthwhile musician or audience that's come of such an attitude. So keep listening to those triads and seventh chord arpeggios, folks! I think it's marvelous that you entertain yourselves in this fashion.

Dec. 12 2009 05:41 PM
Max Brostel from Brooklyn, NY

Well put, Phil! The misguided cries of those who confuse their own subjectivity with law. There's always a vocal minority of those shaking their fists against the rising tides of something new, all the more vocal because soon their voices will be collectively silenced. I'd say the Pulitzer Prize committee, the legions of admiring musicians, composers, artists, critics and young ears have done something to make these last protestations all the more desperate... and as you say "sad." Some people just have missed the train!

And what's this about no melody in Reich? Those who've heard Tehillim or The Cave know the truth. Those who couldn't deal with "extended tonality and serialism"? And why should he have to? Reich's created a his own language built on processes that unfold with perceptible inevitability. And ones that have relevance for an urban American audience, not the obsolete, angst-ridden 20th century of Vienna and Darmstadt.

And perhaps worst of all the very notion of a "musical fraud"? What could this possibly mean? Yes, I'm sure there could be name calling to support this ridiculous postulation, but the term sounds suspiciously oxymoronic to me. He's only a "fraud" in as much as intolerant, short-sighted people seek to impose their own notions of what a melody is, what tonality means to them... which is to say, all in your head.

The music of Reich is a blessing to all those who come to it with open ears and an open heart. There is joy in it in a way that had never been heard before. Thank you Q2 for giving voice to this profound thinker and composer!

Dec. 12 2009 04:21 PM

Wow, it's like wandering into the Museum of Natural History. They're all here, the dodecasaur, the pomposoraptor, all once mighty, then doomed, now just sad.

Dec. 12 2009 12:36 PM
Frank Feldman

Steve Reich influenced by Bach?! There have been some humorous moments on this blog, but that one takes the cake. Modal jazz? How do you have modal jazz when you can't write a melody? When your music consists only of third-grade harmonies? African drumming, perhaps. Except African (and jazz) drumming constantly pulls ahead and behind a metronomic beat. Which the Steve Reich ensemble is utterly incapable of doing.

Dec. 12 2009 11:08 AM
seth from Brooklyn

most of you nasty, pretentious people who have decided for yourselves what is and what is not worthwhile music should stop to realize that Reich is coming from a different musical experience than you - African drumming, Indonesian gamelan, modal jazz, as well as Bach. Many people find what he's done with these influences to be fascinating and invigorating. Why don't you just tune back in to WQXR fm? There is still plenty of Beethoven, Bartok and Mozart in the world for everyone.

Dec. 12 2009 09:31 AM
Donald from Worcester

I can't possibly take 8 days of Steve Reich. I'll be listening again in a week. Too bad as no other station seems to usually have such an invigorating mix.

Dec. 12 2009 07:25 AM
Judd from Brooklyn

Thanks to Q2 for hosting this truly excellent festival. Despite what some posters may feel, Reich has been a touchpoint for many of us, throughout the years, and so has WNYC. So it's fitting to see a great composer represented on a great radio station, or its internet equivalent.

Dec. 11 2009 11:40 PM
Richard Mitnick from Highland Park, NJ

Yea for Michael, Vic, Ira, and Buddy.

Dec. 11 2009 10:34 PM

I just to want to say that I dig Reich's music. To me, it has the power of art rock, you know, it's heavy and trippy. I don't know why all you guys have it in for him. Sit back, have a smoke and mellow out to it. It's not supposed to be classical music, it's new age space music, man. Dig it.

Dec. 11 2009 10:21 PM

I will happily join the fray here. I feel embarrassed that WQXR gives Steve Reich the time of day, much less programs him. Who's less talented than he? Oh yeah, forgive me, Phil Glass. OK, who's less talented than THEM?

Dec. 11 2009 10:18 PM

The end of serious music as we all once knew and loved it. Very very sad.

Dec. 11 2009 10:14 PM

Listen, dudes, I KNOW Steve Reich. And let me tell you-he is laughing his way all the way to the bank.

Dec. 11 2009 10:12 PM

Whoa, people, chill. To each his own. If what we've got is a generation of tone deaf listeners who respond only to rhythm and hypnagogic phenomenon, then so be it. This too shall pass. There'll be a generation of composers who will make this little blip of musical history a comical oddity and its practitioners immortal embarrassments to the art. In the meantime, chill out and listen to real composers, friends.

Dec. 11 2009 10:10 PM

Ira, you're funny. At least you're up front with your monumnetally profound musical taste. The reason for the rancor, "Todd", is that these charlatans have kept serious music off concert programs for close to forty years. Unwitting film directors use their music, college students makes themselves tone deaf with it, people write this sort of drivel end up on UNIVERSITY FACULTIES. It's no joke, my friend. It's the musical apocalypse.

Dec. 11 2009 10:06 PM

You guys are such snobs. Reich has his place; Ozzie has his place; classical stuff has its place. It's all good, you know, man?

Dec. 11 2009 10:04 PM

Emily, you need to chill out. It's not big news that Reich is a fraud. You and I and anyone else with a pair of seasoned ears knows it. But why the rancor?

Dec. 11 2009 09:56 PM

To quote from the genius himself and the article you so revere: "To facilitate closely detailed listening a musical process should happen extremely gradually."
Thank goodness Beethoven and Bartok didn't have this magnificent epiphany! It's a marketing tool and a marketing tool only, to appeal to the lowest, VERY LOWEST, form of listener.

Dec. 11 2009 07:32 PM

If by ignorance you mean my disdain for Reich and Glass and the other ignoramuses who've been fooling the public for the past forty years, you are absolutely correct. Steve Reich and Phillip Glass couldn't improvise their way out of a paper bag. They'll be a footnote in music history. Charlatans who couldn't deal with extended tonality or serialism, or the simple challenge of writing a tonal melody (perhaps most of all). He cites Stravinsky as an influence! How funny is that?!

Dec. 11 2009 07:28 PM
Michael from Long Island

"Faux counterpoint"?! What are you talking about; do you know? To the extent that Reich "pretends" to write counterpoint (I'm assuming you refer to the series of pieces titled "(x) Counterpoint"), he writes just that -- multiple voices acting independently but interrelated in some fixed manner. It's not strict Fux counterpoint, but then neither is Perotin, who I doubt you've actually listened to.

I'm unaware of his ever claiming to be _in_ "the Notre Dame School" -- Reich writes Reich. He has cited Perotin as an influence, and they share a sense of highly distilled abstraction, though to me Perotin sounds more like Riley.

If you're actually interested in what Reich "pretends" to write, read his seminal essay Music as Gradual Process. I suspect, though, you're more comfortable in your ignorance.

Dec. 10 2009 04:48 PM

Well, the truth is the man pretends that he writes counterpoint (in the tradition of the Notre Dame school) and simply doesn't. It's faux counterpoint and minimalist drivel. And the texts he chooses to compose! Less musical material it would be hard to imagine.

Dec. 09 2009 10:17 PM

Dear Emily,
One man's meat (or fish) is another man's poison.
And what you don't know, you simply don't know.
If you don't enjoy Steve Reich's music, don't tune into the festival; no one will miss you.

As for me, I'm always guided by Ellington's motto,
"if it sounds good, it is good."

Dec. 08 2009 11:40 PM

Steve Reich is a no-talent poseur, a fake, a sham. He has minimal everything. Except for his Emperor's New Clothes, which he has been shamelessly wearing for forty years.

Dec. 08 2009 09:18 PM

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