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Steve Reich: Music We Love

Wonge Bergmann
Courtesy of the artist

Steve Reich turns 75 years old October 3, and such a birthday calls for major celebration.

Despite the obvious truth the calendar provides, it's incredibly hard to square the ever-youthful Reich, as a composer and as an individual, with such an august anniversary. His recent work — from the emotionally charged WTC 9/11 to the chiming electric guitars of 2X5 — is as profoundly innovative and fresh as his It's Gonna Rain. Reich's landmark tape piece from 1965 turned the shouts of a San Francisco street preacher into a mesmerizing canon that absolutely catalyzed musical expression.

At this point in his life, Reich has moved from deflecting the derision of the musical establishment to receiving a Pulitzer Prize for 2009's Double Sextet. And perhaps no other composer has had such a profound impact on popular culture. Reich has been idolized and emulated by everyone from Brian Eno to Sonic Youth to Sufjan Stevens — and electronica arguably wouldn't exist as the genre we know if it weren't for Reich's work.

We've invited an array of Reich-heads — friends from NPR member stations, NPR Music folks and some extraordinary musicians who have worked closely with the composer — to reflect on his music.

Which of Reich's pieces has had the greatest impact on you? Join the conversation in our comments section.

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Anastasia Tsioulcas is a correspondent on NPR's Culture desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including the trial and conviction of former R&B superstar R. Kelly; backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; and gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards.