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(b 1935 )

Terry Riley was born in Colfax, California, on 25 June 1935. After graduating from San Francisco State University, he moved across the Bay for graduate-studies in composition with Seymour Shifrin and William Denny. Although he was composing in the then accepted serial style, his friend La Monte Young led Riley to investigate long tones. Riley applied them to his 1960 String Quartet and 1961 String Trio. In 1961 he completed his M.A. at the University of California, Berkeley, and moved to Europe. He became involved in a variety of music endeavours, including experiments with tape at the ORTF studios of French national radio.

In 1963, Riley returned to the Bay Area, where he continued his experiments at the San Francisco Tape Music Center. The resulting works from that period were In C (1964) and Dorian Reeds (1965). The seminal minimalist work, In C, provided the conception for a form comprised of interlocking repetitive patterns that was to change the course of twentieth-century music and strongly influence the works of Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams as well as rock groups such as The Who, The Soft Machine, Curved Air, Tangerine Dream and many others.

In 1965, Riley joined La Monte Young in New York, singing with The Theatre of Eternal Music. In 1968 he recorded In C, which was followed by another of his tape experiments, Poppy Nogood and His Phantom Band. In 1970 Riley met the renowned North Indian vocal master, Pandit Pran Nath. The next decade was largely devoted to studying Indian music and teaching it at Mills College.

His recordings in the 1970s were restricted to electronic-organ improvisations like Persian Surgery Dervishes (1971), Descending Moonshine Dervishes (1976), and Shri Camel (1976). It was in Oakland, toward the end of the decade at Mills, that Riley met David Harrington, the founder and first violinist of the Kronos Quartet. The long association with the Kronos Quartet resulted in nine string quartets, a keyboard quintet and a concerto for string quartet and orchestra. In addition to writing music for string quartet, Riley has also produced music for a variety of other new music ensembles, including the Rova Saxophone Quartet, ARRATMUSIC, Zeitgeist, Stephen Scott’s Bowed Piano Ensemble, The California EAR Unit, The Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio, pianist Werner Baertschi, the Amati String Quartet, and guitarist David Tanenbaum.

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