Concerts By Composers:Eliane Radigue

Concerts by Composers: Eliane Radigue

Works Performed or Excerpted:

1.       “Excerpt from Adnos III” - Eliane Radigue, Arp 2500 Synthesizer



Eliane Radigue


Eliane Radigue (born January 24, 1932) is a French electronic music composer. She started her work in the 1950s and her first creations were presented in the late 1960s. Until 2000 her work was almost exclusively created on a single synthesizer, the ARP 2500 modular system and tape. Since 2001 she composed mostly for acoustic instruments.

She was born and raised in Paris in a modest family of merchants at Les Halles. Afterwards, she married the French-born American artist Arman with whom she lived in Nice while raising their three children until 1967, then in Paris. She had studied piano and was already composing before having heard a broadcast by the founder of musique concrète Pierre Schaeffer. She met him shortly thereafter in the early 50s and became his student while working periodically during visits to Paris at the Studio d'Essai. During the early 1960s, she was assistant to Pierre Henry, during which time she created some of the sounds which appeared in his work. As her work gained maturity, Schaeffer and Henry believed her use of microphone feedback and long tape loops was moving away from their ideals, but her singular practice was still related to their methods.

Around 1970, she created her first synthesizer-based music at NYU at a studio she shared with Laurie Spiegel on a Buchla synthesizer installed by Morton Subotnick. Her goal by that point was to create a slow, purposeful "unfolding" of sound, which she felt to be closer to the minimal composers of New York at the time than to the French musique concrète composers who had been her previous allies. After presenting the first of her Adnos in 1974 at Mills College at the invitation of Robert Ashley, a group of visiting French music students suggested that her music was deeply related to meditation and that she should look into Tibetan Buddhism, two things that she had very little familiarity with.

Upon investigation of Tibetan Buddhism, she quickly converted and spent the next three years devoted to its practice under her guru Pawo Rinpoche, who subsequently sent her back to her musical work. She returned to composition, picking up where she left off, using the same methods and working toward the same goals as before, and finished Adnos II in 1979 and Adnos III in 1980. Then came the series of works dedicated to Milarepa, a great Tibetan yogi, known for his Thousand songs representing the basis of his teaching. First she composed the Songs of Milarepa, followed by Jetsun Mila an evocation of the life of this great master; the creation of these works was sponsored by the French government.

At the end of the 80s, beginning of the 90s, she devotes herself to a singular three-hour work, perhaps her masterpiece, the Trilogie de la Mort, of which the first part kyema Intermediate states follows the path of the continuum of the six states of conscience. The work is influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead Bardo Thodol and her meditation practice as by the death of Pawo Rinpoche and her son Yves Arman. The first third of the Trilogie, Kyema, was her first release recording, issued by Phill Niblock's XI label.

In 2000, she made in Paris her last electronic work l'Ile Re-sonante for which she received in 2006 the Golden Nica Award at the festival Ars Electronica in Linz.

In 2001 upon request from the double bass and electronic composer Kasper T. Toeplitz, she makes her first instrumental work Elemental II, a work taken up again with the laptop improvisation group The Lappetites she joined.


 Eliane Radigue on the Experimental Intermedia Series


“From almost its creation in the seventies, I’ve given almost all the ‘premieres’ of my works at Phill Niblock’s space…It was a pleasure to test [my compositions] on the nice installation of Phill’s and outside of my small studio in Paris. Nice also to have friends around, and I’m very grateful to Phill for his fidelity which is merely at least equal to mine.  

Experimental Intermedia was, at that time and I guess is still, one of the few places where this kind of music could be given to be listened to. Good luck and best wishes.” -Eliane Radigue (transcribed from a handwritten letter) 2011


Eliane Radigue in DRAM


Note: The recording of Adnos III used here is from the studio recording and not the live performance, as stated in the voiceover of the radio program.  Due to tape deterioration, Eliane requested that this performance be substituted as it more clearly showed the dimensions of the original piece.