Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Else Marie Pade - Et Glasperlespil (2001 compi of works 1958-1964)

Else Marie Pade was a Danish electronic/concrete composer whose music didn't become readily available until this compilation appeared in 2001.  Like Konrad Boehmer from last week, after working with Boulez, Stockhausen et al, she struck out on her own to produce the first Danish piece of electronic music Syv Cirkler (Seven Circles) (1958) and several other unique works.

Central to this disc is her half-hour suite based on Goethe's Faust, in which complementary frequencies float and pulse around to symbolise the relationships between the characters.  This eerie soundscape from 1962 reaches its apex of creepout with a sinister echoing voice reciting a Dies Irae text, representing the damnation part of the narrative.  The final work featured here, Græsstrået (The grass blade) (1964) is also particularly notable for being based around percussion, prepared piano, violin and concrete sounds in place of pure electronics.  I find this one the most engrossing, probably given its distinct variety from the tracks preceding it.

Oh, and before composing any of this, Pade spent World War II participating in the Danish Resistance, working on a clandestine newspaper, and eventually being imprisoned in the Frøslevlejren interment camp where she scratched compositions into the walls of her cell.  Now that's a full and fascinating life; she passed away aged 91 at the beginning of this year.

Et Glasperlespil


  1. Interesting. Is the title also a reference to H. Hesse's book?

    1. Liner notes confirm - good spot!

      To be exact though, apparently Pade's work was originally in two parts; the first part directly inspired by the novel's obsession with the "perfect beauty" of the configurations of the game, and the second part a more abstract memory of Pade playing a glass bead game as a child. Only the second part appears on this disc - not sure if reasons of space or was unavailable at the time of release.

      I haven't actually read the Hesse - tempted to shortlist it for the future now that this has piqued my interest!