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Classical Notes: October 3, 2006 Archive

Steve Reich is 70?

Posted at 10:37 AM on October 3, 2006 by Don Lee

“It seems inconceivable to me that Steve Reich is turning 70. He’s such a startling, sort of revolutionary figure in American music…. It’s funny; I feel like 70 is a totally meaningless number in relationship to him.”

Jane Moss, Lincoln Center’s VP for programming, said that in a piece that aired on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday two days ago. It’s one of two NPR Reich features I’d like to recommend to you on his 70th birthday.

The other is NPR’s “Song of the Day.” Tom Huizenga observes that in Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, “the patterns are as thick, colorful and confusing as an exquisitely woven Persian carpet.” He’s right about that.

At the same time, I’ve always thought that to appreciate Reich, it helps to appreciate simplicity, especially repetition. In that sense, those of us who grew up with crude, repetitive rock ‘n’ roll hooks have a way into Reich that our elders lack. “Louie, Louie” Variations, anyone?