Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Playlist For Eric Ericson (1918-2013)

There's no other description for Eric Ericson that suffices except to say that he was, bar none, the greatest choral conductor of the twentieth century. In 1945, he formed the a cappella Eric Ericson Chamber Choir in Stockholm, and led it until 2003. He lead the Swedish Radio Choir from 1951 to 1982, and the all-male choir Orphei Drangar from 1951 until 1991, and there was not a single important professional choir which he did not guest conduct. Sergiu Celibidache, a conductor as frugal with his praise as he was with fast tempos, called him 'the grand chief of choir of our time' (it probably sounded more idiomatic in French...). 

Ericson, more even than Robert Shaw, is responsible for the international blend of sound which most choirs today have - creating a middle ground between the perfectly straight-toned blend of the English church choir and the full-throated operatic chant of the Russian Orthodox church. His repertoire spanned the entire era of written music, from the earliest pre-polyphony to countless world premieres of choral works from composers as well known as Henze, Penderecki, Dallapiccola, Nono and Ligeti (whose Requiem Ericson premiered and who dedicated his Drei Chorphantasien to Ericson) to dozens if not hundreds of Scandinavian composers. 

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