Watch: Steve Reich on Composing 'Different Trains'

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It was thirty-five years ago today that Kronos Quartet gave the world premiere performance of Steve Reich’s Different Trains at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. To mark the occasion, Reich’s publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, has published a new video, in which he discusses the process behind composing this piece for string quartet and tape. Reich used carefully chosen speech recordings to shape the musical material for the score, evoking his American childhood during World War II while also addressing the Holocaust. The 1989 first recording of Different Trains, performed by Kronos, won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition.

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It was thirty-five years ago today that Kronos Quartet gave the world premiere performance of Steve Reich’s Different Trains at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, November 2, 1988. To mark the occasion, Reich’s publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, has published a new video by Jesse Yang, in which the composer discusses the process behind creating this piece for string quartet and tape. Reich used carefully chosen speech recordings to shape the musical material for the score, evoking his American childhood during World War II while also addressing the Holocaust.

The first recording of Different Trains, performed by Kronos and released on Nonesuch the following March, went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition. It was reissued on vinyl five years ago today on the thirtieth anniversary of the debut performance. You can hear it and get it on vinyl here.

Kronos Quartet has its own milestone anniversary this concert season—its fiftieth—and has two new landmark vinyl releases as part of the celebration: Kronos Quartet Performs Philip Glass, out tomorrow, and Black Angels, on February 16.

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Steve Reich: On composing 'Different Trains,' November 2023
  • Thursday, November 2, 2023
    Watch: Steve Reich on Composing 'Different Trains'
    Boosey & Hawkes

    It was thirty-five years ago today that Kronos Quartet gave the world premiere performance of Steve Reich’s Different Trains at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, November 2, 1988. To mark the occasion, Reich’s publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, has published a new video by Jesse Yang, in which the composer discusses the process behind creating this piece for string quartet and tape. Reich used carefully chosen speech recordings to shape the musical material for the score, evoking his American childhood during World War II while also addressing the Holocaust.

    The first recording of Different Trains, performed by Kronos and released on Nonesuch the following March, went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition. It was reissued on vinyl five years ago today on the thirtieth anniversary of the debut performance. You can hear it and get it on vinyl here.

    Kronos Quartet has its own milestone anniversary this concert season—its fiftieth—and has two new landmark vinyl releases as part of the celebration: Kronos Quartet Performs Philip Glass, out tomorrow, and Black Angels, on February 16.

    Journal Articles:Artist NewsVideo

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