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Aquarellen über das Meer; Illustrations

Else Marie Pade

Aquarellen über das Meer; Illustrations

Richard Krug, Else Marie Pade, Helen Davies
With this CD we are presenting another two works by Else Marie Pade (b. 1924) that have never before been released, or even played in a concert. They are a mainly acoustic piece, Aquarellen über das Meer I-XXI and the all-electronic Illustrations. Although so far several CDs of Else Marie Pade's music have been released, there are still new experiences ahead before we have a full overview of her pioneering musical efforts.
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"Electronicaens gudmor, Else Marie Pade, laver stramme værker og eventyrlige satser, der er lige til at lytte til (...) musikken er fremragende"
Thomas Michelsen, Politiken
Total runtime: 
55 min.


Aquarellen über das Meer I-XXI

The title recalls the art of painting, and how can music form stories from pictures? Think for example of a well known piece of music like Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures from an Exhibition, which was inspired by and tells us about a succession of pictures, ten in all, by the composer's friend the painter Victor A. Hartmann. Each picture-piece has a title, and comparing the music with the title it is not difficult to feel that the music is re-painting the pictures in the form of a clear sound-painting. But without titles Mussorgsky's music would perhaps strike other notes in the listener.

With her work Aquarellen über das Meer I-XXI Else Marie Pade has also been to a kind of exhibition. Although her friend, the author and painter Georg Sønderlund Hansen did not exhibit his 21 pictures in an exhibition hall, he did give them as a gift to Else Marie Pade, collected in a booklet with a brown cover. Before Else Marie Pade saw the pictures she had made the acquaintance of Georg Sønderlund Hansen's poem Das Meer, but as she writes in a four-page account of the composition, she missed something visual to base the music on\, and this led to Georg Sønderlund Hansen giving her the water-colours. Each water-colour measures 24x16 cm, and together they show the sea in various moods.

The work was begun in 1968 during a Darmstadt course with Christoph Caskel and finished in Copenhagen in 1971.

The title and the meaning of the text

A title is of great importance. It lays down the path for the work of art, and colours its reception. Before we have heard the work about the 21 water-colours of the sea, the title has already given us an impression of the expressive content of the music we are about to hear.

We receive a multitude of associations from images of the sea: bathing and well-being, fear and death by drowning, dead calm, metre-high waves, boundless infinity, the surf on the coast, a broad colour spectrum of blue, green, black and white shades - and the yellow and red sheen that can appear at sunrise or sunset. The sound of the sea may be lapping, foaming, roaring, and its smell may be fresh or with a tang of rotting seaweed.

Georg Sønderlund Hansen's poem is even more defining for the expression of the music than the title. The poem may be about the sea, but clearly much more is going on. In the poem one's thoughts go out to the cycle of life: conception, youth, the pain of pulsating life, joys, hopes, defiance and spite, the unquiet end. All that is unalterably and restlessly melancholy - in short, the fateful life-cycle of mankind.

The music has the incredible power not only to follow up on the meaning of the title and the text; but also to add a wealth of possible experiences, partly created by the listener. Else Marie Pade's music is true to its model, but besides the paintings of the sea and the human condition, it also opens up avenues for individual interpretations.

The structure of the work

The 21 musical pictures in Else Marie Pade's work last one minute each, and the overture, intermezzi/text and finale each last around quarter of a minute. The German text is incorporated in the intermezzi, in between the pictures, but four times - twice before and twice after the middle picture, no. 11, the picture in which lightning rends the heavens - the composer omits any text. Four of the 20 intermezzi are thus textless. The same goes for the overture and the finale.

The introduction, intermezzi and ending make use of various segments and volumes of the purely electronic sounds called white noise, as well as maracas, also at various volumes. The role of the reciter is important. Richard Krug reads calmly and intensely.

The musical paintings themselves have their sonority from the rich palette of the percussion. Gert Sørensen successively recorded and then coordinated all the percussion instruments: timpani, bass drum, tom-tom, snare drum, tambourine, tam-tam, hanging cymbals, crotales, triangle, flexatone (only in the midmost picture, no. 11), maracas, glockenspiel, zither and piano. To these we can add the harp, played by Helen Davies Mikkelborg, whose well-defined, star-evoking tones create light and airiness in the pictures nos. 7 and 19.

The score describes the music in detail, but leaves space for the musicians' personal realizations. The recording and the electronic editing were done in close collaborat-ion with the composer. Else Marie Pade has herself said of the work:

\\It's my universe. There are colour and movement, words and music. One thing corresponds to another. It isn't contrapuntal, but supplementary, layer-on-layer-on-layer-on-layer. This gives it depth where there is otherwise flatness.\\ (From an interview in Kvinder i Musik 1995.)

4 Illustrations


The work is both old and new. It was completed in 1995, but is based on old tapes that Else Marie Pade had left from her experimental laboratory period in the 1950s-1960s. Around 1990 the time was ripe for a new interest in the early electronic experiments, and Else Marie Pade's Seven Circles (1958) was performed at a festival in Holland. The tape of this composition was cleaned by the digital coordinator at the Danish broadcasting corporation Danmarks Radio, Henrik Stibolt, and his collaboration with Else Marie Pade continued when they sampled some of Else Marie Pade's old tape pieces to create 4 Illustrations. The composition work - the editing-together of the tape segments - resulted in four fully conceived, organic, serial, minimalist works.

Their sounds vary: pulsating, floating, static, undulating, with clear-cut, variously repeated melody lines; turning (The Palace of the Sea King), ascending (Fairyland) or descending (King Winter).

As in several earlier compositions, the associations with the world of fairytale are obvious. The titles signal fairytale, but the sounds too seem supernatural, at the same time paving the way for emotions that normally thrive best in the unconscious, ominous or enchanted.

As in the water-colours, the illustrative is the clearest element in 4 Illustrations. And an interesting event is related to the work, since in 2003 it became the inspiration for a textile design. The textile designer Margrethe Odgaard created four designs that were -depictions of Else Marie Pade's four illustrations. Margrethe Odgaard writes about the process in Hans Sydow's book about Else Marie Pade, and the following quote is about the textile artist's experience on listening to Fairyland:

\\The piece mainly consists of two sound-pictures: one sound is close to me, clear-cut, dominant and direct, while the other is in the background and is soft, secret, vibrant and withdrawn. With their changing focus they go up and down, back and forth. The regularity and repetition make me think of stripes or dots. The motion is to a certain extent static, but with life at the background level. Words central to my experience of the piece are ‘light' and ‘shade' - I kept thinking of flashes of light and getting associations almost exclusively with yellow shades. My first thought was a beige pleat with a bright yellow in the folds that appears as a result of the movements of the body. But I also imagine a dotted or striped pattern.\\ (From Hans Sydow: Else Marie Pade, livet i et glas-perle-spil, 2005.)

A photo of one of the textiles shows a mater-ial with a warm, slightly curry-yellow colour and soft irregular stripes in a slightly darker nuance. The stripes are shot through with light-violet ‘lightning flashes', and slightly lighter yellow ‘leaves' cross them.

So in the same way as music can be influenced by pictures, music can also inspire the visual world. Many painters like to work to music; we find a striking example of this in the Finnish avant-garde painter Birger Carlstedt, who painted a lovely picture, La cathédrale engloutie, while his wife, the concert pianist France Ellegaard, practiced Debussy.

Else Marie Pade

Else Marie Pade's life - and the great interest in her music that has been shown since the 1990s - have been described in many contexts. See for example the biographical notes in the two previous Dacapo releases with her music: A Glass Bead Game in 2001 and Face It in 2002.

Here three prominent characteristics of Else Marie Pade's life will be singled out: her courage, her fondness for the colourful and magical, and her fundamental aesthetic attitude.

Songs Amidst the Darkness

When you visit the Museum of the Occupation in Århus, the city where Else Marie Pade was born and grew up, you can go down into a basement room with a small barred window at the top of a wall. If you have heard about and read Else Marie Pade's account of her time in the basement prison in the Gestapo headquarters in the autumn of 4, your thoughts in the dungeon go to the situation of that 19-year-old girl. Although it is impossible to imagine her fear and anger, which in time, with the aid of her artistic identity and activity, turned to calm, your respect for Else Marie Pade's courage grows. Else Marie Pade's path into the Resistance went by way of her piano teacher Karen Brieg, who was the leader of a Resistance group whose members were women. The group was informed on in September 1944 and ended up in the Frøslev Camp.

There Else Marie Pade was held prisoner until the end of the war. She and several of her fellow prisoners have told the story of life in the women's barrack of the Frøslev Camp, and as a reader you focus on the -indomitable will to life and justice that shines out of the stories. But life was \\no tea party\\ as Museum Tusculanum's book Ikke noget theselskab (2002) about the women is called, and several of them were to live with traumas for the rest of their lives. However Else Marie Pade had the energy - or perhaps it was the music that kept her going - to write music and in some cases texts for several hit tunes while she was in the camp. It was her declared aim that these tunes would fund her later music studies.

Amidst the darkness, another positive event happened for Else Marie Pade in the Frøslev Camp: it was there she met her -future husband Henning Pade, the later head of programmes at Danmarks Radio.

Glass Bead Games

While Else Marie Pade's childhood and youth were played out in the 1930s and 1940s, her life as a pioneer in concrete and electronic music began in the 1950s and 1960s. From her childhood she had her store of fairytales and her pleasure in colours and forms, which can be illustrated for example by a glass bead game.

In Else Marie Pade's musical work it was her artistic courage that was challenged, since the Danish musical establishment both belittled and ridiculed the experimental works. Her route to concrete and electronic music was French-inspired, as she got to know at an early stage about Pierre Schaeffer's Groupe de recherches de musique concrète. Later Else Marie Pade also became part of the international contemporary music environment at Darmstadt, where she attended the famous courses in 1962, 1964, 1968 and 1972. There, Stockhausen among others showed an interest in her works.

At the beginning of the 1950s Else Marie Pade was engaged by Danmarks Radio (DR), first as a secretary to Karl Bjarnhof, then as a producer, and she made a number of programmes about contemporary music. She had her first technical assistance and training from the engineering graduate Holger Lauridsen (1920-57), and the early experiments took place in his laboratory at DR, Lab III. She was also a co-founder and member of an experimental study circle, later the Aspekt society, which in time came to encompass all the arts.


Face It

In an interview Else Marie Pade has said that her musical ideal has always been supernatural beauty. The music may well involve tension and suspense, but it must first and foremost be beautiful. At the same time one must be able to look evil in the eye:

\\I suppose my world has been a highly aestheticizing one. Even if things have been ugly, I have not made the music ugly, but have tried to make it intense, illustrative, eventful. But not disharmonious, because it is part of a totality.\\ (From an interview in Kvinder i Musik, 1995.)

Else Marie Pade's ideas of also being able to use concrete music in human contexts were expressed in her collaboration with the medical professor Preben Plum. In 1973-78 the two worked on a research project that was about trying to stimulate multi--disabled children's conceptual world by linking concrete sound with pictures. Despite the successful experiments, the results were not followed up because of a lack of funding.

Else Marie Pade's empathetic view of hum-anity is also reflected in the following concluding statement. To a question about when she thinks music is beautiful she answered:

\\It's a matter of emotion. It can be so many things. It doesn't need to give you peace of mind. It can also be violent music. I think music is beautiful when I can feel that there is a progression ... When you ... feel that there is a course of events behind it, an inspiration, a thought, something a person has wanted to give other people, and that has really meant something to someone - then I think it's beautiful.\\ (From an interview in Else Marie Pade og Symphonie magnétopho-nique, 2006.)



In 1980 the UN's international women's conference was held in Copenhagen. During the ‘alternative conference' at the University of Copenhagen in Amager the American musicologist Jeannie Pool talked about the existence of and the views of female composers, and over the course of a couple of months the Museum of Musical History was able to put together an a exhibition about female composers. The museum also made space for a panel debate chaired by Anne Kirstine Nielsen. There were four composers on the panel: Else Marie Pade, Gudrun Lund, Diana Pereira and Birgitte Alsted. In the wake of the debate and on the initiative of among others the last two composers mentioned, the society Kvinder i Musik (Women in Music) was formed.

Since then the society has built up an archive, published a periodical and newsletters, and organized concerts with music in all genres, with women and men as performers; but the music has been composed by women.

Else Marie Pade is one of the composers whose works Kvinder i Musik has had the pleasure of presenting: in Hässelby just outside Stockholm in 1982 (The Blade of Grass, but without the visual images); at the Glyptotek in Copenhagen and at Galleri Marius in 1983 (Four Anonymous Songs for contralto and clarinet, first performance); and at the Black Diamond of the Royal Library in 2005 (Symphonie magnétophonique with accompanying film projection of the score).

Inge Bruland, 2008

Release date: 
January 2009
Cat. No.: 
Jewel Case
Track count: 


Aquarellen über das Meer: Recorded in July and August 2008
Recording producer, sound engineer, editing, mix and mastering: Gert Sørensen
Co-producer: Palle Mikkelborg

4 Illustrations: Recorded in 1995
Recording producer: Else Marie Pade
Sound engineer: Henrik Stibolt
Mastering: Gert Sørensen

Cover image: Georg Sønderlund Hansen

Graphic design:

Dacapo Records and Women in Music acknowledge, with gratitude, the financial support of the Danish Arts Council, Danish Composers' Society/ KODA's Funds for Social and Cultural Purposes, KODA's Collective Blank Tape Remuneration, Augustinus Fonden, Her Royal Highness Princess Benedikte's Fund and AntiPiratGruppens Legatpulje.