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Tributes to ‘the greatest chorusmaster of his time’

We’ve been sent the following translation of a Swedish obituary of Eric Ericson, who died on Friday, aged 94. Our correspondent points out that, in a Swedish population of 9.5 million, no fewer than quarter of a million regularly sing in choruses. Well done Eric!

eric ericsson

Choir director Eric Ericson has died.

The world famous choir director Eric Ericson has died, 94 years old
- It was not he who created choir singing but he refined it. He has been an era in himself, says his friend and colleague Gustav Sjökvist.

The world famous choir director Eric Ericson died on Friday night.

He is known as the modern Swedish choral father and is perhaps best known for his work with the choir Orphei Drängar, where he was director for 40 years.
- He had an extraordinary sense of tone. It is almost impossible to describe, but it emanated from his hands, his whole appearance. In the case of choral music, he is completely unique, says Gustaf Sjokvist.

Ericson was the son of a free church Minister and was introduced to music at an early age, he learned to play the piano and organ and directed as a teenager. But it was at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, where he developed himself and choral music in a way that has characterized the choir making in Sweden and in the world.
- Everyone has looked up to him. He started as a teacher at the Academy of Music in the 1950s, a series of generations have had him as a teacher and colleague. He has meant so much for the emerging choir tradition, says Gustaf Sjokvist.

During his time at the Academy of Music Eric Ericson was friends with a group that would have a major impact on his musical development. They were called Monday Group and included among other composers Sven-Erik Bäck, Sven-Eric Johanson and Ingvar Lidholm.

Gustaf Sjokvist, who took over as head of the Radio Choir from Eric Ericson, highlights how difficult it was to try to introduce new ideas, because Ericson himself had most often managed it before him.
- He was constantly pushing the boundaries, he was a very inquisitive person. He was also a great humanist, which you become when you are meeting and working with people all the time like he did.

Ericson was 94 years old and survived by his wife and four children.


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  1. Petros Linardos says:

    - To what extent is Ericson to be credited for the high participation of Swedes in choruses? Was there a significant increase in his lifetime?
    - It is disappointing to see the lack of media attention to his death.

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