Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 September 2022
Steve Reich pitched up in San Francisco in September 1961. He was a young musician, one who had been taken by the early-century work of the Hungarian composer and folklorist Béla Bartók, and he had journeyed west from New York in the hope of studying with Leon Kirchner, a composer in the rough-lyric Bartók tradition who had been teaching at Mills College. But Kirchner had just left for Harvard, so Reich ended up working at Mills under Luciano Berio. Over the course of the previous decade, Berio had become identified as a figurehead of the European postwar avant-garde: his ultramodern serialist work was quite a different proposition to Kirchner’s own.