• 1918 — 2013
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A persuasive choral director and conductor, Eric Ericson exerted an influence far beyond his native Sweden. Through tours of the Swedish Radio Choir, his own chamber choir, and guest appearances before other choral organizations and orchestras, Ericson won high praise for his ability to achieve clarity and adaptablity from his singers. Whether heard in 19th century Swedish music, the great choral works of the Baroque and Classical periods, or in works by contemporary composers, those who sang under Ericson found a unique purity of sound to serve his expressive ends.
Ericson's musical education was broad-based. After studies at the Stockholm Musikhögskolan in the years 1941 to 1943, he traveled to wartime Switzerland to train at Basel's Schola Cantorum, remaining there through 1949. Additional studies in England, America, and Germany preceded his appointment as Cantor at Stockholm's Jacobskirch in 1949. In 1953, he was made a professor at Stockholm Conservatory.
Several outstanding choral ensembles have benefited from his ministrations. In 1945, he founded the Stockholm Chamber Choir (later known as the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir), an a cappella ensemble that came to enjoy near-legendary status. Equally famous was the Swedish Radio Choir, founded by Ericson in 1951 and led by him until 1982. Performances by that choir prompted a number of symphony conductors to begin requesting Ericson's participation in their own choral projects. In addition, also from 1951, Ericson was artistic director and principal conductor of Orphei Drängar, the all-male choir in Uppsala, Sweden. During this same period, Ericson returned to Stockholm's Musikhögskolan as teacher and, from 1968, as professor of music.
After his retirement from post as principal conductor of the Swedish Radio Choir in 1982, Ericson undertook guest assignments worldwide. Notable collaborations were made with the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Vienna State Opera Choir, the BBC Singers, the RIAS-Kammerchor, and the Groupe Vocal de France. In demand for choral master classes, Ericson worked with students and other choral directors at many major universities and music schools. Lured by the prospects of overseeing larger works, Ericson began to accept guest engagements with major orchestras in Europe, America, and the Far East. On other occasions, he served as choral director under such conductors as Harnoncourt and Muti. In 1995, Ericson was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize. To mark his 80th birthday in 1998, the "Eric Ericson Chair in Choral Conducting" was established at Uppsala University.