Else Marie Pade investigation at Edition·S

2019-02-25
A comprehensive musical investigation is taking place at Edition·S at the moment. Graphic scores, tape reels, orchestra parts and diary notes from the private archives of composer Else Marie Pare are being scrutinized. Hans Peter Stubbe Teglbjærg tells about the work in progress.

Photo: Lisbeth Damgaard
The Danish composer Else Marie Pade (1924-2016) was never represented by a music publisher while she was alive, but now all of her works are compiled at Edition·S. Else Marie Pade is known as a Danish pioneer in electronic music but an examination of her complete oeuvre shows that she was much more than that.

In collaboration with Edition·S composer and lecturer Hans Peter Stubbe Teglbjærg examines, restores and digitizes Else Marie Pade's tape reels and he reads through her scores and notes. No complete list of Pade's oeuvre exists, and now previously overlooked works appear, while new aspects are added to well-known works.

"Else Marie Pade's works seem to fall into five different categories," Stubbe Teglbjærg explains: Instrumental works, electronic works, works combining live instruments and tape, radio plays and TV productions.

"There is quite a large amount of instrumental works ranging from small chamber ensemble pieces to orchestral works," Stubbe Teglbjærg tells. "This is mainly early works, written around the time when she studied composition, and the style is obviously influenced by that time. It is rather tonal or semi tonal music."

In the late 1990's Else Marie Pade had a revival among Danish electronic composers and musicians and this means that the electronic music in her oeuvre is rather well known and documented. Nevertheless, new elements also appear in that category: A large number of graphic scores. "Bits and pieces of this were well known, but it turns out that there are graphic scores to more or less all her electronic pieces," says Hans Peter Stubbe Teglbjærg. "They are very personal, very clear and thoroughly composed, so they are easy to follow and explicit in every way. It is wonderful material."

Graphic score for Else Marie Pade's 'Faust'

7 trombones, Klangfarver and Konkylie
The third category is the combination of live instruments and electronics. In these works, her contact with composers outside of Denmark is particularly obvious. This is where it shows that she was in Darmstadt - the first time was already in 1962 - she was in dialogue with Stockhausen and was inspired by talks with Ligeti, Boulez and Schaeffer. Her main work in this genre is 'Maria' - an electronic essay for coloratura soprano, bass-baritone, sprechgesang, 7 trombones and tape. 'Maria' builds on the Nicene Creed in Latin, and each of the 11 movements has its own soundtrack. The soundtrack to 9 out of the 11 movements are made out by the electronic piece 'Klangfarver' originally an individual work with its own story, according to Hans Peter Stubbe Teglbjærg:

"In the early 1970's Else Marie Pade received a commission from DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation). There was no studio for electroacoustic music in Copenhagen at the time, and instead, composers from the Nordic countries travelled to Stockholm to work at the Swedish Elektronmusikstudion, EMS. That is where 'Klangfarver' was created," Stubbe Teglbjærg tells. "Else Marie Pade was not accustomed to the way of working that was common there. In DR where she worked, a technician controlled the various machines based on her prescriptions, but this was not the case in Stockholm. This meant that she spent a lot of time on technical challenges and was frustrated about the artistic results. 'Klangfarver' was broadcast as an individual piece in 1973 but afterwards, it was integrated as the soundtrack of 'Maria' alongside 7 trombones and another tape with the title 'Konkylie'."

"I found a note describing what she was unhappy about in 'Klangfarver'," Hans Peter Stubbe Teglbjærg reveals and continues: "This is something that can easily be fixed in a modern studio - so we will do that, and the first performance of the restored version of 'Maria' can be experienced at PULSAR Festival 2019."

Graphic score for Else Marie Pade's 'Klangfarver'

Radio plays and TV ballets
A fourth and rather comprehensive category in the list of works is radio plays. "It seems that this is a completely underrated aspect of her oeuvre," Hans Peter Stubbe Teglbjærg says. "It is a broad category, and some of it was most likely bread-and-butter assignments. In some pieces, the story is in focus, and the music is sparse and mainly illustrative but in others the music is significant."

According to Stubbe Teglbjærg, Else Marie Pade took the work with radio plays very seriously even though it probably did not add much to her name in the opinion of others. "There is an obvious subject for a musicologist to dig into here. This is a completely blank page and with a lot of material to look at," Stubbe Teglbjærg says and adds that a number of the radio plays also reveal Else Marie Pade as a scriptwriter.

The category of TV productions contains some well-known material such as the TV ballet 'Immortella' but also material which is still not completely uncovered. These are works where a score, script or other written notes are known but the actual recordings are yet to show up. That still might happen since more material keeps coming in from the heirs.

When everything is digitized the works will be made available at Edition·S' website where you will be able to read through the scores, listen to recordings and of course purchase scores and parts for future performances.

"Since Else Marie Pade was never represented by a music publisher she handled everything in regards to the spreading of her music herself," Hans Peter Stubbe Teglbjærg tells. "She was a female composer in a world dominated by men, which was - and still is - not easy, on top of that she was a single mom raising two children. Later on, she became very sick, the traumas from World War II caught up with her, and she withdrew herself from the music scene and public life in general." Hans Peter Stubbe Teglbjærg speculates that the width in her oeuvre might also have been to her disadvantage in terms of receiving the recognition that she deserved. "She has been hard to position because she embraced such a wide musical field, and adding to that there was a large scepticism towards the electronic aspect at the time."

Hans Peter Stubbe Teglbjærg underlines that the story about Else Marie Pade which is most commonly known today - her role as the grandmother of electronic music - is not the whole story. "The story that will be told about her from now on should include that she was an extraordinarily multi-faceted composer, who worked meticulously with the music and with sound regardless of the media or genre. It is thoroughly composed music we are looking at here."

Else Marie Pade received some public attention early on in her career. Here an article in a Danish women's magazine

NEWS & EVENTS