The Kennedy Center

Erik Bergman


A prominent composer of classical music, and a choral conductor in Finland, Erik Bergman was born in 1911. His work ranged from romanticism, to modernism, to musical primitivism. His distinctive style became a model for many aspiring musicians.

Bergman studied at Helsinki's Conservatory. He studied with Wladimir Vogel in Ascona, Switzerland and with Heinz Tiessen at the Sibelius Academy, where he later became professor in Composition.

His orchestral and instrumental music won him international fame, namely Silence and Eruptions, Violin Concerto and String Quartet. His first opera, The Singing Tree premiered in 1995 at the Finnish National Opera won him the coveted Nordic Music Prize. Bergman's work in concertos and chamber music escalated and expanded from the year 1970. Similarly, he had composed extraordinary creative orchestral and choral works.

Tre aspetti d'una serie dodecafonica (1957) was his first dodecaphonic orchestral work, followed by Aubade (1959) and Simbolo (1960). He traveled extensively to different countries, learning and incorporating his experiences into his work as shown in Bardo Thodol (1974). This baritone, choir, mezzo-soprano, and orchestral work was based on Tibetan Book of the Dead where he used Tibetan shell trumpet, rattle drum, etc., just as he did for his other compositions.

Bergman produced more than 150 compositions, one of which is Opus 122 Poseidon for orchestra. He died in 1996.
Erik Bergman


  • Poseidon