NPR

Steve Reich: Music We Love

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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