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Reich at 70

America's greatest living composer helped dig classical music out of its mire of discordance, and reunited serious and popular traditions. Happy birthday Mr Reich

By Nick Crowe   October 2006

Steve Reich’s legacy seems assured. Hailed by some as the greatest living American composer, he and his fellow minimalists—Terry Riley, Philip Glass, La Monte Young—are credited with pulling western art music from the mire of discordance dug by Schoenberg and fellow serialists. In addition, Reich claims to have reunited serious music with the popular, or “folk” as he likes to describe it.

To mark Reich’s 70th birthday, the Barbican has just staged a week-long festival in his honour, setting high-profile recitals of his works alongside full-on homage evenings, hosted by dance groups, DJs and leftfield composers. Yet most of Reich’s…

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