Skip to page content

About this Piece

From the early taped speech pieces It's Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) to his and video artist Beryl Korot's music theater video piece The Cave (1990-93) and digital video opera Three Tales (2002), American composer Steve Reich's path has embraced not only aspects of Western Classical music, but the structures, harmonies, and rhythms of non-western and American vernacular music, particularly jazz. Born in New York and raised there and in California, Reich graduated from Cornell University in 1957. For the next two years, he studied composition with Hall Overton, and from 1958 to 1961 he studied at Juilliard with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. Reich received his M.A. in music from Mills College in 1963, where he worked with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud. In 1966 Reich founded his own ensemble of three musicians, which rapidly grew to 18 members or more and first toured as Steve Reich and Musicians in 1971. Encounters with non-western music in the 1970s took Reich to Ghana and Jerusalem, and he also studied Balinese gamelan in Seattle and Berkeley. Reich's 1988 piece, Different Trains, for recorded sounds and string quartet, marked a new compositional method, rooted in It's Gonna Rain and Come Out, in which speech recordings generate the musical material for musical instruments. Reich has received commissions from a long list of distinguished institutions and performers such as the San Francisco Symphony, the Barbican, the Vienna Festival, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (for guitarist Pat Metheny), and Betty Freeman (for the Kronos Quartet), and his music is performed by leading European and American ensembles. The composer has written the following note to introduce Nagoya Marimbas (1994):

Nagoya Marimbas is somewhat similar to my pieces from the 1960s and '70s in that there are repeating patterns played on both marimbas, one or more beats out of phase, creating a series of two-part unison canons. However, these patterns are more melodically developed and change frequently, and each is usually repeated no more than three times, similar to my more recent work. The piece is also considerably more difficult to play than my earlier ones and requires two virtuosic performers."