Born in 1936, Steve Reich is one of the most significant American composers of the 20th century. Having established a distinctive musical sound early on in his career, within what is known today as the Minimalist School of American composers (or Post-Minimalist, which he prefers), originating from the 1960s after John Cage’s experimentalism, he is rightly placed today alongside other major American composers like Terry Riley, Philip Glass and John Adams.
Manfred Waffender’s major documentary traces the background to the creation of City Life. Reich masterfully captures sounds from New York City street life with the aid of two sampling keyboards and microphone, forging the noise of the city street into a work for string quartet, wind, percussion and two pianos. The film culminates in a performance of the piece from the Frankfurt Opera House, with the Ensemble Modern conducted by Sian Edwards.
Steve Reich’s City Life was nominated for the Prix Italia and at the Banff Television Festival and Input 96.