Composer of the Month: Steve Reich

Composer of the Month_ Steve Reich.jpg

Here at the California Conservatory of Music, we’re obviously all about teaching music. However, many people don’t realize how much we all love learning more and more about the subject that we’re all most passionate about: music! At our Bay Area music school, we strongly believe and hold to the fact that the best teachers are lifelong students themselves. We’re always doing everything that we can to better ourselves and improve our abilities, not only to be better musicians, but better teachers and communicators. Our Santa Clara music students and the students of our music school in Redwood City deserve the best musical instruction that we’re able to provide. For that reason, you’ll always be able to trust that the music instructors at the California Conservatory of Music are doing our best to learn, grow, and practice, even as we ask and expect the same thing from our music students.

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For the month of October, we’re going to focus our Composer of the Month series on Steve Reich. This modern American composer helped to pioneer minimal music in the mid-1960s. His style has influenced many musicians and his compositions are marked by their use of repetitive figures, slow harmonic rhythms, and canons. He’s also been called America’s greatest living composer. Let’s take a closer look at the talent and works of Steve Reich.

Early Life

Steve Reich was born in 1936 in New York City. Steve took piano lessons as a young child and began to study music in earnest at the age of 14. While attending Cornell University, Reich minored in music and graduated in 1957 with a B.A in Philosophy. Following his graduation, Reich enrolled to study at Julliard to work with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. After this, he attended Mills College where he earned a master’s degree in musical composition.


Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Reich used much experimentation in his many compositions. During these decades, he worked on several film soundtracks, unique compositions, and other groundbreaking works. Though he’s been a working composer for years, Steve Reich, in the last three decades has gotten more into dramatic works that focus on a historical event. In many cases, having to do with Jews during the Holocaust.

There is so much more to say about Steve Reich, but it would actually be easier to get a feel for his individual style by listening to some of his works. Feel free to check him out and learn more about this trailblazer for his time.

If you’re ready to take your musical ability to the next level, contact the California Conservatory of Music to enroll in piano lessons, guitar lessons, violin lessons, or cello lessons. We can’t wait to hear from you!