The manuscript for a minimalist masterpiece
Steve Reich, 1971
REICH, Stephen Michael (b.1936). Autograph manuscript, a fair copy, signed twice ("Steve Reich"), 8 May 1971.
Eight leaves, 356 x 280mm, vellum, rectos only (each leaf tipped to a larger piece of cardstock). Provenance: Steve Reich – acquired directly from the composer by the present owner.
Part One of Reich's minimalist masterpiece. Signed on first leaf "Steve Reich 2/71" and on the final leaf "Original version, copied in ink on May 8, 1971 – Steve Reich." Reich traveled to Africa in 1970 and Drumming was composed on his return, between the fall of 1970 and the autumn of 1971. He would later comment, "I am often asked what influence my visit of Africa in the summer of 1970 had on Drumming. The answer is confirmation. It confirmed my intuition that acoustic instruments could be used to produce music that was genuinely richer in sound than that produced with electronic instruments, as well as confirming my natural inclination toward percussion." Minimalism flourished in the 1960s and 70s as composers like Reich, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass distilled music to its most elemental forms. Drumming lasts 55 to 75 minutes—the longest continuous one Reich would compose—and is divided into four parts performed without pause. The present comprises Part One, written for four pairs of tuned bongo drums, stand-mounted and played with sticks. The remaining parts include marimbas together with women's voices; glockenspiels with whistling and piccolo; and finally, all instruments and voices combined. The present manuscript bears differences from the published version of the score, which did not appear until 2011.
Born in New York and raised there and in California, Reich graduated with honors in philosophy from Cornell University in 1957. For the next two years, he studied composition with Hall Overton, and from 1958 to 1961 he studied at the Juilliard School of Music with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. He received his M.A. in Music from Mills College in 1963, where he worked with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud. In 1966 he founded his own ensemble of three musicians, which rapidly grew to 18 members or more. He has been called "America's greatest living composer" (The Village Voice), "the most original musical thinker of our time" (The New Yorker), and "among the great composers of the century" (The New York Times). In 2009 Reich was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music. Autograph music from Reich is very rare on the market; ABPC records only one other sale.