Eliane Radigue (b. 1932)

Eliane Radiuge Portrait (2006)

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. She participated in their first album "Before the Libretto" on the Quecksilber label in 2005.

Since 2004 she dedicated herself to works for purely acoustical instrument. First with the American cello player Charles Curtis, the first part of the work Naldjorlak was created in December 2005 in New York and later played in 25 concerts across the U.S. and in Europe. The second part of Naldjorlak for the two basset-horn players Carole Robinson and Bruno Martinez, was created in September 2007 at the Aarau Festival (Switzerland). The three musician have completed with Eliane Radigue the last part of Naldjorlak and presented the complete work "Naldjorlak I,II,III" on January 24, 2009 in Bordeaux.