Pade made his official debut in 1986, but had already made a name in the 1970s with works in a collage style. He studied composition with Ib Nørholm, Per Nørgård and Karl Aage Rasmussen, and also trained as a pianist. Pade has concentrated on chamber works, but has also written a piano concerto and the orchestral works Arcus and Hymne og klagesang (Hymn and Lament). Steen Pade is an important figure in the organization of Danish musical life: he has been director of the Society for the Publication of Danish Music, Det Unge Tonekunstnerselskab (the Society of Young Composers) and has headed the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra. Since 1993 he has been principal of the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen.