Else Marie Pade

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Else Marie Pade (born 2 December 1924) is a Danish composer.

Pade was born in Ain Aarhus, and was educated as a pianist at the Kongelige Danske Musikkonservatorium in Copenhagen. She studied composition first with Vagn Holmboe, and later with Jan Maegaard, from whom she learned twelve-tone technique. In 1954, she became the first Danish composer of electronic and concrete music (Bruland 2001). She knew and worked with Pierre Schaeffer and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Pade was active in the resistance during the Second World War, and was interned at the Frøslev prison camp from 1944 till the end of the war.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

During her childhood, Else Marie Pade was often bedridden with pyelonephritis. Her mother, having lost her first child, was very fussy about Else Marie, who often had to lie in bed. Here she listened to the outside world and created "aural pictures" out of the sounds. These sounds, real sounds, became the basis of her actual musical works. As a protected child, she came with her mother out of town, so she would not be alone, went to the theatre. The first music lessons took place in the home where the mother tried to teach her piano playing, but when she did not bother practising scales , she got her mother's piano teacher, Miss Moller. Later she had music lessons at the People's Music School in Aarhus, where the director, Edoard Müller, a music agent in N. Kochs School, had seen Else Marie's talent and offered her music education at the People's Music School. Else Marie replied that they could not afford it, and then Hr.Müller called the parents and established a system. The approximately 12-year Else marie gained insight into jazz thanks to the People's Music School. She borrowed a portable gramophone from a friend and heard New Orleans jazz. When she was about 16 she began in a jazz band, "The Blue Star Band" which played at school dances and associations. The drummer in "The Blue Star Band" had a brother who studied music at university and took piano lessons with Karin Brieg, one of the city's leading pianists and teacher at the conservatory. This brother said to Else Marie that she could not continue to play jazz, but instead had to take piano lessons with Brieg, which she did (Bak 2008, 20). It was also through Brieg that she came into the resistance movement. One day Else Marie spat at a column of German soldiers who marched in Aarhus city center. A soldier stepped out of line and ran after her, but Else Marie knew the city and escaped, taking the tram to Brieg who lived in Klintegården. Brieg said that if she were to resist, she had to join the Resistance, and so Pade joined a women's group with her.[citation needed]

Resistance and imprisonment[edit]

The central watchtower at Frøslevlejren.

Pade began by distributing illegal newspapers after 20 August 1943, and in 1944 she received training in the use of weapons and explosives. She joined an all-female explosives group aimed at identifying the telephone cables in Aarhus with resistance organiser Hedda Lundh. The idea of this survey was that the wires would be blown up when the British invasion came, so the Germans could not use the telephone network. However the plan was cancelled when the Normandy landings took place (Vyff 2003).

On 13 September 1944, Else Marie Pade was arrested by the Gestapo. After a tough interrogation she woke up in a nightmare with a scream. Out of a prison window she saw a star flash and heard music coming from inside herself. Next morning she scratched tune into the cell wall with a buckle from her girdle. It was the song "You and I and the Stars" . She was sent to Frøslevlejren, where she began composing, and decided to train in music. In Frøslevlejren the prisoners held song evenings to keep their spirits up. The songs included Pade's songs and other songs arranged by Karin Brieg. These works were released on CD on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the liberation: Songs in the Darkness: Music Frøslevlejren 1944–45 .


After the war, read Else Marie Pade music at the Conservatory of Music, first as a pianist, but because of the after-effects of her stay in Frøslevlejren she could not do this and trained instead as a composer.

In 1952 she heard a Danmarks Radio programme on Musique concrète and its creator Pierre Schaeffer. It reminded her of childhood sounds and timbres. Via family in France, she contacted the French radio RTF and Schaeffer. She got the chance to see studies on RTF and Pierre Schaeffer had his workshop and got an appointment to get sent home material. In the same year she read Schaeffer's book À la Recherche d'une musique concrete (On the trail of concrete music).[citation needed]

A day at Bakken[edit]

This, inspired by Pierre Schaeffer, became Denmark's first concrete and electronic music work: A day at Bakken. After having posted a synopsis for DR, as Jens Frederik Lawaetz read, she agreed to make background music for a TV show for the new Danish television. The background music was Denmark's first practical musical work created by many recordings fromBakken, in which she was assisted by technicians from DR.[citation needed]

Symphonie magnétophnique[edit]

The work is concrete music that describes everyday life in a day in Copenhagen: morning that dawns with its routines, the way to work time in the office and the factory, then the trip home from school and work to domestic routines in the evening, and finally the day is running out and a new one can begin.[citation needed]

Seven Circles[edit]

This was composed after visit to the planetarium at Expo 58 in Brussels. The composition shows the night sky with the stars and their movement relative to each other. The work is based on Ligeti's principles of sound colours, Boulez's serialism and Stockhausen's mathematically organized score. It is Pade's first piece of purely electronic music.[citation needed]

Darmstadt School[edit]

Her interest in the new music caused her and many other composers to travel to Darmstadt and follow Stockhausen, Ligeti and Boulez's courses. Pade participated in 1962, 1964, 1968, and 1972. Stockhausen has used her Glass Bead Game as an example when he lectured on electronic music (Bak 2008, 26 and 28).

Grass blade[edit]

Nini Theilade and Pade were friends, they met El Forman in whose apartment many art interested people gathered. Together they did a TV ballet, Grass Blade, based on a poem by El Forman, with the choreography by Theilade.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  • Bak, Andrea. 2008. "Else Marie Pade I eventyrland". Ud & Se (March): 16–28.
  • Bruland, Inge. 2001. "Pade, Else Marie". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Vyff, Iben. 2003. "Hedda Lundh (1921–2012)—Lundh, Hedda". Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon, KVINFO [Danish Centre for Information on Gender, Equality and Diversity) (Accessed 2 July 2013).

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