Erich was born in Paso Robles, California, the second of five children and first son to Erich and Mary Schwandt. Erich was predeceased by his youngest sister Inga Claire Himes and is survived by his older sister Mary Anne Moss, younger siblings James William Schwandt and Martha Jeanne Chase, as well as 18 nieces and nephews and their families.
Erich’s interest in education surfaced at an early age when he tutored the neighboring pastor’s child on the kitchen blackboard. His appreciation of music dates back to his early years in his childhood home, which held two pianos and an organ that he restored while in high school.
Erich attended Stanford University, earning his Ph.D. in music in 1967. He went on to teach musicology and music history at Eastman School of Music, from 1968 to 1975. In 1976, he accepted a position at University of Victoria, which he held until his retirement in 2001.
Erich devoted his life and the full force of his considerable intellect to his work as a professor, music historian and performer, specializing in baroque era music, dance, harpsichord and organ. He communicated this passion for music to his students, who found him to be a unique and intensely motivating teacher. His musical interests ranged wide and were not confined only to centuries past. While at Stanford, during the folk revival years, he worked on several songs for the Kingston Trio and was the musical calligrapher for a book by Dave Guard.
As a music historian he discovered and reconstructed the lost Gloria movement of Erik Satie’s Messe des Pauvres (Mass of the Poor), which had been missing since 1885. Erich performed the full mass in its world premier November 5, 1997, in the central auditorium at University of Victoria on the Clearihue pipe organ, accompanied by a 40-person choir. (Erich had been instrumental in finding the organ and seeing it restored and installed.) Erich continued to play the Clearihue at UVIC convocations for 30 years, long past his retirement, attending more graduations than anyone in the history of the university. In 2015, Erich was awarded honorary alumnus status at UVIC, where the head of music described Erich as “one of his department’s defining spirits.”
A memorial gathering, including a program of music, will be held for Erich in the Farquhar Auditorium at University of Victoria, on Saturday September 30 at 2pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Mary M. and Erich P. Schwandt Scholarships
By mail: Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 STN CSC, Victoria BC V8W 2Y2
Attn: Development Office. Include in Cheque Memo: Mary M. and Erich P. Schwandt Scholarships