Though he spent a brief time in the Bay Area, Steve Reich’s story is all New York, through and though. Like his hero John Coltrane, Reich’s music is pulsing with the vibrancy of the city. In fact, Reich goes so far to say, “New York is so ingrained in my biography that if you took it away, I wouldn’t have a biography.” Via Red Bull Music Academy:
New York [has been] central to my musical development from the age of 14 when I went to Birdland, where I had the opportunity to hear Miles Davis and Kenny Clarke and all the other great bebop stars. I heard Igor Stravinsky conduct for the first time in my life at Carnegie Hall on a Sunday when I was 14 or 15. New York is the home of the Juilliard School of Music, where I went to get a large part of my musical education – and while I was doing that, at night I was going to the Five Spot and other places to hear John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. I heard Luciano Berio – who was then a visiting composer – give a concert at the New School in the Village while I was at Juilliard. I heard the premieres of the Elliott Carter quartets, which shook a lot of people up. I played in Carnegie Hall for the very first time with Michael Tilson Thomas back in 1973, and I’ve given three sold-out one-man concerts in the big hall at Carnegie after that. Carnegie Hall is a central part of where I’ve presented my music. Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Museum of Modern Art and Town Hall are the three locations where [my 1971 piece] Drumming had its world premiere. I wanted to reach these three very different types of cultural centers.