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Folke Rabe has died

The Swedish musician and composer who died on 25 September was 81 years old

Swedish jazz musician, composer and lecturer Folke Rabe has died. Born in 1935, Rabe studied at Stockholm’s Royal College of Music under the likes of Valdemar Söderholm, Bo Wallner, György Ligeti and others. Starting out as a jazz musician, Rabe went on to release many works during his lifetime, including the electronic drone composition What??, which was originally released on a split LP with Bo Anders Persson by Wergo in 1970 and reissued by Important in 2012. In The Wire 347, David Keenan described What?? as “one of the great modern musical koans”.

“Eternal music is not a music that sounds forever, despite its promise,” wrote Keenan. “Rather it is a music that sounds the ends of space, the limits of space, which allow us to conceptualise it. Rabe consistently talks about getting inside the sound, and what we find there is not emptiness itself but endless shells, redolent of emptiness, fields where emptiness might manifest or suggest itself, but never, quite, the experience of emptiness itself. The music of Folke Rabe, like the moulds of Rachel Whiteread, like the music of Blue Cheer, makes the inexplicable explicable and underlines the most primal combination, the ultimate duet: that between time and space – reverberant in space, expressive in time, but ultimately expressive of nothing, really, except variations of itself again and again.”

Other Rabe works include Pièce, (1961), Bolos (1962) and Rondes (1964), the last named being one of his most frequently performed works. Rabe worked as a music administrator at Swedish Institute for National Concerts between 1968–80, and from 1980 worked for the Swedish National Broadcasting Corporation as an editor, editor-in-chief and programme manager.