Éliane Radigue

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Éliane Radigue
File:Elaine Radigue and Cat.jpg
Éliane Radigue and cat
Background information
Born (1932-01-24) January 24, 1932 (age 89)
Paris, France
Genres Electronic, ambient
Years active 1970–present
Labels Lovely Music Ltd, Important Records, records
Website www.lovely.com/bios/radigue.html

Éliane Radigue (born January 24, 1932) 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 on a single synthesizer, the ARP 2500 modular system 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. 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 and 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. As her own work matured, Schaeffer and Henry felt that her use of microphone feedback and long tape loops was moving away from their ideals, though her singular practice was still related to their methods.


Around 1970, she created her first synthesizer-based music in a studio she shared with Laurie Spiegel on a Buchla synthesizer installed by Morton Subotnick at NYU. Her goal at 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 the premiere of Adnos I 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 she was not familiar with.

Buddhist influence

After investigating 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 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,[2] 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 death of Pawo Rinpoche and her son fr (Yves Arman). The first third of the Trilogie, "Kyema", was her first recording, released by Phill Niblock's XI label.

Acoustic era

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 the electric bass and composer Kasper T. Toeplitz, she created her first instrumental work, Elemental II, which she took up again with the laptop improvisation group The Lappetites. 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.

Representative creations

  • Chry-ptus New York Cultural Art Center, 1971
  • 7th Birth New York, 1972
  • Geelriandre Théatre de la Musique, Paris, 1972
  • Phi 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
  • 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
  • Koume Mamac, Festival MANCA, Nice, 1993

The last three works constitute the 3 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


  • Songs of Milarepa (single disc) (Lovely Music, 1983)
  • Jetsun Mila (Lovely Music, 1987)
  • Kyema, Intermediate States (Experimental Intermedia, 1992)
  • Mila's Journey Inspired by a Dream (Lovely Music, 1992)
  • Biogenesis (Metamkine, 1996)
  • Trilogie de la Mort (Experimental Intermedia, 1998)
  • Songs of Milarepa (two discs) (Lovely Music, 1998)
  • E = 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 (Alma Marghen, 2012)
  • "Ψ 847" (Oral, 2013)
  • Naldjorlak I II III (shiiin, 2013)

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

With The Lappetites

  • 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. "Éliane Radigue, Mining Wisdom From 11th-Century Buddhism by Ben Ratliff, The New York Times, 20 August 2015

External links