Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Steve Reich

Dr. Bob Prescribes Steve Reich

Yesterday’s Music History Monday post, entitled “Musical Riots and Assorted Mayhem”, included a report of what happened when Steve Reich’s Four Organs for four electric organs and maracas (composed in 1970) was performed at Carnegie Hall on January 19, 1973. As we noted yesterday, the boos and catcalls began from almost the beginning of the performance. Of the performance, the New York Times critic Harold Schonberg observed: “The audience reacted as though red-hot needles were being inserted under their fingernails. There were yells for the music to stop, mixed with applause to hasten the end of the piece.” According to Michael Tilson Thomas, who was one of the organ players in the performance (as was Steve Reich): “One woman walked down the aisle and repeatedly banged her head on the front of the stage, wailing ‘Stop, stop, I confess!’” Tilson-Thomas is an undependable witness; the woman, in fact, merely banged her shoe on the front of the stage. Still. I’ll be the first to admit that Reich’s early work (like Four Organs) is best enjoyed and understood while the listener is, perhaps, under the influence of some consciousness raising/dulling substance. However, his later works – like Eight Lines and New […]

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