Present Realities - Future Questions

2006 Royal Philharmonic Society Lecture - Steve Reich

Given on Friday 29 September 2006 at The Music Hall, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London

Some thoughts about the recent past, the present and speculations on the musical future

“Some (students) turn to me and say: “You helped liberate us!” Well, I’m not sure who was in a better position, them or me. In Poetics of Music, Stravinsky wrote: “In art as in everything else, one can build only upon a resisting foundation: whatever constantly gives way to pressure, constantly renders movement impossible. My freedom thus consists in my moving about within the narrow frame that I have assigned myself for each one of my undertakings ... Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength.” I wish those young composers, now free to do whatever they like within the entire world history of classical and popular music, good luck.”

Steve Reich

is a composer who studied philosophy as well as music and has been dubbed by The New Yorker as ‘the most original musical thinker of our time’. This was a unique opportunity to find out first hand his current thinking on the state of composition and what lies ahead.

The RPS Lecture

offers a platform for eminent thinkers and cultural commentators to examine aspects of the future of music.

The RPS Lecture is generously supported by Peter Bull



Tim Walker, CEO and Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra: I value the RPS for supporting what we do and in particular for stimulating an interest in new music.


In 1980 pianist extraordinaire Stephen Hough won the first RPS Julius Isserlis scholarship, enabling him to study abroad at Julliard.