Éliane Radigue

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Éliane Radigue
Éliane Radigue
Éliane Radigue
Background information
Born (1932-01-24) January 24, 1932 (age 89)[citation needed]
Paris, France
Years active1950s–present
LabelsLovely Music Ltd, Important Records, shiiin records

Éliane Radigue (born January 24, 1932[citation needed]) is a French electronic music composer. She began working in the 1950s and her first compositions were presented in the late 1960s. Until 2000 her work was almost exclusively created with the ARP 2500 modular synthesizer and tape. Since 2001 she has composed mainly for acoustic instruments.[1]


Radigue was born in a modest family of merchants and raised in Paris at Les Halles.[citation needed] She later married the French-born American artist Arman with whom she lived in Nice while raising their three children, before returning to Paris in 1967. She had studied piano and was already composing before hearing a broadcast by the founder of musique concrète Pierre Schaeffer. She soon met him, and in the early '50s became his student, working periodically at the Studio d'Essai during visits to Paris. In the early 1960s, she was assistant to Pierre Henry, creating some of the sounds which appeared in his works.[2] As her own work matured, Schaeffer and Henry felt that her use of microphone feedback and long tape loops (as heard in Vice-Versa and Feedback Works 1969-1970) was moving away from their ideals, though her practice was still related to their methods.


1955–1957: Apprenticeship in musique concrète[edit]

Radigue's initial education on electroacoustic music was from composer Pierre Schaeffer, whom she was introduced via radio broadcasts of his music. After meeting him in person through a mutual friend,[3] Radigue started her music education under Schaeffer and Pierre Henry at Studio d'Essai de la Radiodiffusion Nationale in Paris on 1955. At the institution, Radigue was trained on tape music techniques as a part of her education in musique concrète. Radigue described the experience as eye-opening, as it introduced her to the idea that any sounds were able to be considered musical. However, she also described her early music to be paralleled from the practice as both of her educators disfavored electronic music over musique concrète principles.[3][4][5]

1960s: Tape feedback[edit]

Radigue left Studio d'Essai due to the need to support her children's education. As she lost access to studios and equipment, she pursued music education on classical composition, harp, and piano.[6] In 1967, Radigue reconnected with Pierre Henry and started to work as his assistant at Studio Apsome. During this time, she developed particular interest in tape feedback technique, as it fit her sonic vision of minuscule developments over an extended time.[7][8] After a year, Radigue resigned and started her professional music career, primarily working within the tape editing medium.

1970s–1990s: Experiments with synthesizers[edit]

Around 1970, Radigue created her first synthesizer-based music in a studio she shared with Laurie Spiegel on a Buchla synthesizer installed by Morton Subotnick at NYU. (Chry-ptus dates from this time.) Her goal at this point was to create a slow, purposeful "unfolding" of sound through the use of analogue synthesizers and magnetic tape, with results 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.[9] She experimented with Buchla and Moog synthesizers before finding in the ARP 2500 synthesizer the vehicle she would use exclusively for the next 25 years in forging her characteristic sound, beginning with Adnos I (1974). After that work's premiere at Mills College at the invitation of Robert Ashley, a group of visiting French music students spoke to her about Tibetan Buddhism, a subject she found fascinating and began investigating upon her return to Paris.[10]

Buddhist influence[edit]

After investigating Tibetan Buddhism, she quickly converted and spent the next three years devoted to its practice under her guru Tsuglak Mawe Wangchuk (the tenth incarnation of Pawo Rinpoche),[11] who subsequently sent her back to her musical work. She returned to composition, picking up where she left off, using the same working methods and goals as before, finishing Adnos II in 1979 and Adnos III in 1980. Then came a series of works dedicated to Milarepa,[12] the great Tibetan yogi, known for his Hundred 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.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she devoted 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 consciousness. The work was influenced as much by the Tibetan Book of the Dead Bardo Thodol and her meditation practice, as by the deaths of Tsuglak Mawe Wangchuk and of her son Yves Arman [fr]. The first third of the Trilogie, "Kyema", was her first recording to be released on Phill Niblock's XI label.

2000s–present: Acoustic works[edit]

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

In 2001, on request from electric bassist and composer Kasper T. Toeplitz, she created her first instrumental work, Elemental II, which she took up again with The Lappetites, a laptop improvisation group. She participated in their first album Before the Libretto on the Quecksilber label in 2005.

Since 2004 she has dedicated herself to works for acoustic instruments. First with the American cellist Charles Curtis, the first part of Naldjorlak was premiered in December 2005 in New York and later played in 25 concerts across the U.S. and Europe. The second part of Naldjorlak for the two basset horn players Carol Robinson and Bruno Martinez, was created in September 2007 at the Aarau Festival (Switzerland). The three musicians completed the third part of Naldjorlak with Radigue and premiered the complete work, "Naldjorlak I,II,III", in Bordeaux on January 24, 2009. In June 2011 her composition for solo harp Occam I, written for the harpist Rhodri Davies, was premiered in London. Numerous solos and ensemble pieces in the OCCAM cycle have followed.

Selected works[edit]

  • Vice-Versa, etc... Lara Vincy Gallery (Paris), 1970
  • Chry-ptus New York Cultural Art Center, 1971
  • 7th Birth New York, 1972
  • Geelriandre Théatre de la Musique, Paris, 1972
  • Ψ 847 The Kitchen, New York, 1973
  • Arthesis Theater Vanguard, Los Angeles, 1973
  • Biogenesis and Transamorem Transmortem The Kitchen, New York, 6 March 1974
  • Adnos Festival d'Automne, Paris, 1974
  • 7 petites pièeces pour un Labyrinthe Sonore GERM, Paris, 1975
  • Triptych Dancehall/Theatre of Nancy, 1978
  • Adnos II Mills College, Oakland, 1980
  • Adnos III, Prélude à Milarepa, Experimental Intermedia Foundation, New York, 1982
  • 5 Songs of Milarepa San Francisco Art Institute, 1984
  • Jetsun Mila, Vie de Milarepa, GERM, Paris, 1986
  • Kyema New Langton Arts, San Francisco, 1988
  • Kailasha Experimental Intermedia Foundation, New York, 1991
  • Koumé Mamac, Festival MANCA, Nice, 1993

The last three works constitute the three parts of the Trilogie de la Mort.

  • Elemental II Festival Cités soniques, CCmix, January 2004
  • Naldjorlak Tenri Cultural Institute, New York, December 2005
  • Naldjorlak I II III CACP, Bordeaux, January 2009


  • Vice - Versa, Etc... (single disc) (Self-released, 1970)
  • Songs of Milarepa (single disc) (Lovely Music, 1983)
  • Jetsun Mila (Lovely Music, 1987)
  • Mila's Journey Inspired by a Dream (Lovely Music, 1987)
  • Kyema, Intermediate States (Experimental Intermedia, 1990)
  • Biogenesis (Metamkine, 1996)
  • Trilogie de la mort (Experimental Intermedia, 1998)
  • Songs of Milarepa (two discs) (Lovely Music, 1998)
  • Σ = a = b = a + b (2 x 7" limited edition) (Galerie Yvon Lambert, 1969, taken up by Povertech Industries, 2000)
  • Adnos I–III (Table of the Elements, 2002)
  • Geelriandre / Arthesis (Fringes Archive, 2003)
  • Elemental II (Records of Sleaze Art, 2004)
  • L'île re-sonante (Shiiin, 2005)
  • Chry-ptus (Schoolmap, 2007)
  • Naldjorlak for Charles Curtis, (Shiiin, 2008)
  • Triptych (Important, 2009)
  • Vice Versa, etc. (Important, 2009)
  • Jouet electronique / Elemental I (Alma Marghen, 2010)
  • Transamorem / Transmortem (Important, 2011)
  • Feedback Works 1969–1970 (Alga Marghen, 2012)
  • "Ψ 847" (Oral, 2013)
  • Naldjorlak I II III (shiiin, 2013)

The triple-CD recording Trilogie de la mort includes Kyema, Kailasha and Koume. The two-disc recording Songs of Milarepa includes Mila's Journey Inspired by a Dream .

With The Lappetites[edit]

  • Before the Libretto (Quecksilber, 2005)


  1. ^ Joanna Demers Listening through the Noise: The Aesthetics of Experimental ... 2010, p. 94: "The work of Éliane Radigue quickly puts to rest suspicions that all drones sound like Young's. Radigue is a French electronic-music composer who studied with Schaeffer and Pierre Henry in the 1950s before trading musique concrète for a ..."
  2. ^ "Eliane Radigue". www.lovely.com. Retrieved 2016-12-11.
  3. ^ a b Wyse, Pascal (2011-06-16). "Eliane Radigue's brave new worlds". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  4. ^ "Eliane Radigue: An interview". Telekom Electronic Beats. 2012-10-11. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  5. ^ "éliane radigue - purple MAGAZINE". Purple (in French). Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  6. ^ "Eliane Radigue". www.lovely.com. Retrieved 2016-12-11.
  7. ^ Wyse, Pascal (2011-06-16). "Eliane Radigue's brave new worlds". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  8. ^ Gluck, Bob (2009–2010). Merkowitz, Jennifer (ed.). "An Interview with Eliane Radigue" (PDF). Array: 45–49.
  9. ^ Nagoski, Ian (n.d.). "Very Slowly from the Inside: an Interview with Éliane Radigue". Yeti. 8: 54.
  10. ^ Gayou, Evelyne. "Interview with Éliane Radigue". Retrieved 2020-12-11.
  11. ^ "His Eminence Nenang Pawo Rinpoche". 17 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Éliane Radigue, Mining Wisdom From 11th-Century Buddhism by Ben Ratliff, The New York Times, 20 August 2015

External links[edit]