10-4-12 Steve Reich
Composer Steve Reich born 1936; on 10-4-75 Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here” LP was No. 1 in England.
Of the avant-garde US composers I first heard in the 70’s, I think I heard Philip Glass first, then Steve Reich. Philip Glass had come to my attention by the British LP release of “North Star”; I do not now remember who recommended Steve Reich to me. It is doubtful that I read about him in the ‘rock press’ of the day; much more likely I asked someone in a record store “Who else would I like, if I liked Philip Glass?”
“Music For Mallet Instruments, Voices & Organ” was certainly one of the two first things I ever heard by Steve Reich. But I believe someone played me either “Come Out To Show Them” or “It’s Gonna Rain” – both of which were readily available in the mid-70’s.
Philip Glass might’ve signed with Virgin Records in the UK, but Steve Reich signed with ECM Records in Germany, a jazz label! “Music For 18 Musicians” walked down the pier in 1978, very liberating! All of a sudden, after years and years of rock music, one could count the rings, as it were!
The 70’s was a great time to get interested in esoteric music. “Delusion of the Fury” by Harry Partch was interesting, but that ‘free LP” that came in the boxed set – of Partch himself demonstrating all of his oddball instruments! Wow! That record blew me away!
And after Glass and Reich, it became apparent that there were entire labels that specialized in music of this nature! What should I call it, if it wasn’t really “classical music”?
I had already cut my teeth on John Cage’s “Indeterminacy”, when I was really young: random everything! I still remember buying the “John Cage / Christian Wolff” LP on Mainstream Records; the look I got from the guy at the counter. I must’ve been about 14 or 15. I knew it was a “party record”, just not in the traditionally accepted sense.
There is a fantastic CD you can still buy called “Early Works” by Steve Reich, on Elektra Nonesuch Records. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check this one out. It’s pretty easy to digest electronic esoterica; you can almost see the halls of the school it was written in.
And after decades of rock music, it’s good to have some music in your diet that has some spaces in it.