Eric Funk


Eric Funk is an American contemporary classical composer and conductor. Originally from Deer Lodge, Montana, he currently resides in Bozeman, Montana, where he teaches music courses at Montana State University.

(Cover photo courtesy Rick Smith/Montana PBS)

Global Music Awards: 2018 Best of Show, Gold Medal composition, Gold Medal Classical- Concerto No 1 for Piano and Orchestra, Op 72; American Prize 2018 Special Judge’s Citation “Best Concerto of the Year” ‘Variations on a Theme by Jan Hanus for Violin & String Orchestra, Op 127” : KXLF TV feature:

Article in Portland State University PSU Magazine, Winter 2019:



"Vili: Concerto for the Violin Alone, Op 109" (now an award winning PBS-TV documentary "The Violin Alone"),  was awarded six 2018 Emmy Awards: "Music Composition", Best Documentary-Cultural, Director, Photography, Editing, Audio; "Best Documentary" 2017 Chicago Amarcord Arthouse Television Awards


Eric Funk brings Global Music Award home to Montana

BOZEMAN, Mont. – It’s been an award-winning year for composer and Montana State University Professor Eric Funk.

Funk has won numerous awards for his affiliation with the documentary “The Violin Alone” and the Montana PBS show “11th and Grant” that features musicians from all across Montana.

Now he has another accolade to add to this list. Funk won “Gold Medal – Best of Show” at the 2018 Global Music Awards, an international competition.

“I entered my ‘Concerto for Piano, Opus number 71’, my first piano concerto of three, and I had a wonderful recording with Phil Auburn on the piano and the Latvian Symphony Orchestra,” Funk said. “So I submitted that. It’s a really complicated and wonderful piece. I thought it might be too modern. It’s an international festival, so I wasn’t really sure.”

Funk, who can play most instruments, says his talent was nurtured at a young age.

“My parents were both professional musicians, so all of us kids are also. We really didn’t have a choice. We had a two-and-a-half-hour concert; we were like the Von Trapp family. We had uniforms, we sang as a choir, each of us played three instruments in different combinations, and we’d do these fundraiser concerts for my dad’s professional choir who was touring in Europe,” he said.

Funk says he also draws inspiration from this place most of us love to call home.

“My music reflects this landscape, all the way from the subtle lighting of eastern Montana over by Miles City, and the Hi-Line, where I lived 8th grade through the junior year of high school,” said Funk. “So those subtle places of Glacier Park, which I just love, to this beautiful Gallatin Valley, the space, the altitude—it’s just magical, you know, living here. Every time you look around you’re like, ‘Wow, and I live here.’”

Funk says the School of Music is a microcosm of MSU as a whole, with “lots of people winning prizes and awards, creating national and international attention, shining it on the university, either directly or inadvertently.”

His advice for young musicians? Don’t wait for others to encourage you, just trust the creative process.

“As Dave Gilmore, the guitar player for Pink Floyd said, if you touch one person in the entire world, that’s just magical,” said Funk. “You don’t have to make contact with ten thousand people, just one person who is changed by the experience. It’s a motivator.”

Story by Patrice Parks, MTN News

PBS TV Documentary “The Violin Alone” featured on National Hungarian Television, including a live performance of “Melisma, Op 147” for solo violin, homage to Andre Melief, November 16, 2018.

Global Music Awards Distinguished Honorees Announced

The Global Music Awards is a well-known international music competition that celebrates independent musicians. Global Music Awards is widely recognized by industry insiders as giving legitimacy to highly talented artists. ‘Global Music Awards is recognized as music's golden seal of approval.’

Best of Show honors go to Eric FunkConcerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op 72. Funk is an American Emmy award-winning contemporary classical composer and conductor. His considerable compositional output includes nine symphonies, four operas, six ballet scores, three large works for chorus and orchestra, nineteen concertos, several orchestral tone poems, and numerous works for chamber ensembles, solo instruments, and vocal works. The alluring Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op 72 is performed by Philip Aaberg, piano, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, and conducted by Terje Mikkelsen. 


MSU provost lecture set for Oct. 9, 2018 features Eric Funk in words and music

By Carol Schmidt, MSU News Service
SEPTEMBER 20, 2018

There are at least five themes in the symphony that has been Eric Funk’s life, and the Montana State University music instructor will discuss them at MSU’s next installment of the Provost’s Distinguished Lecturer Series lecture set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in the Reynolds Recital Hall.

Funk works in five areas of music: He is an award-winning composer, conductor, performer, producer and teacher in the School of Music in MSU’s College of Arts and Architecture. He will talk about his work and inspiration at the lecture, which will be held in Reynolds Recital Hall to allow him to perform during his multimedia lecture, which he has titled “My Life is Music.”

“I have been performing since I’ve been 2, so that is 67 years of music,” said Funk.

MSU’s award-winning composer, conductor, performer, producer and teacher will give a multimedia presentation about his life in music at the next Provost’s Distinguished Lecturer Series lecture, set Oct. 9 at Reynolds Recital Hall to facilitate the presentation in words and music. Rick Smith photo.

The host and artistic director of the popular MontanaPBS program about Montana music, “11th and Grant with Eric Funk,” which has won nine regional Emmys for excellence in its 13 seasons.  Funk is also the composer of 149 major works including nine symphonies. He is a noted jazz pianist and an award-winning teacher who has taught some of the largest and most popular courses at MSU – “American Popular Music” and “Masterworks of Music.”

A Montana native who has made a conscious effort to live and work in the Big Sky state, Funk is the son of two musicians – a choral teacher and a piano teacher. Funk said he remembered singing at age 2 in the Funk Family Singers.

“We were like the Von Trapp Family Singers of Montana,” he said, with each of the family’s children also playing at least three instruments. The family’s moves took them from Deer Lodge to Lewistown and Havre as well as locations in Minnesota and Portland, Oregon. All four Funk children found careers in music.

Eric studied piano and composing at Portland State University under Tomas Svoboda, a Czech-American pianist and composer. He also studied under the Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki at Yale and Swiss-Hungarian composer Sandor Veress, a colleague of Bartok. 

Funk’s works now include nine symphonies, six ballets, four operas, 19 concertos and five string quartets, as well as large and small choral works and chamber works, and more. There are six recordings of his music available on CD, including performances by the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra. His music has been performed twice at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall, and he has been featured on NPR and on the CBS program “Sunday Morning.” He was also the subject of a feature story in The New York Times. He recently received an American Prize special judges’ citation for the Best Concerto/Concerted Work of the Year in the professional orchestra division for his “Variations on a Theme by Jan Hanus, Op. 127.”

Recently, Funk has been recognized for his composition “The Violin Alone,”which Funk wrote for Hungarian violin virtuoso Vilmos Olah, who plays all of the parts normally played by an orchestra on one violin. The MontanaPBS special produced by Scott Sterling about Funk’s journey to Budapest, Hungary, to work with Olah recently received six regional Emmys, including Funk's two for best documentary and best musical composition.

Funk is also recognized for his teaching and research: He has received several MSU research and creativity grants, a Montana Governor’s Award for the Arts, a Montana Arts Council Humanities Hero Award and Innovation in the Arts Award. His MSU awards include a James and Mary Ross Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, a President’s Excellence in Teaching Award and a Distinguished Service Award from University Honors.

And Funk continues to be an active performer and mentor to local musicians. This summer he reunited with his old jazz group, “Backburner,” and he frequently plays piano at local gigs.

Funk said he finds energy from the creation of new music. He likens his musical imagination to an iPod that just has to be turned on to play music. And that imagination is now turned on to a new project, a children’s symphony based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale of “The Nightingale.” 

“And I’m waiting for another major piece – probably a symphony -- that wants to be written to rush in,” said Funk. “I’m interested myself to see what the next thing will be.”

That Funk has accomplished so much while living and working in Montana is something of an anomaly. He said many of his colleagues ask him why he works in relative isolation of Montana rather than moving to a musical center like New York.

“I tell them that I make sense here,” Funk said. He adds that Europeans who hear his music often comment about how “big” it is.

“It’s big because this is my home, and my music reflects this place.”

Pamelia, "Instantaneously appealing!"

New York Daily News

Pamelia, "The piece is in a lively Romantic style that bears traces of Western folk elements and a strong Copland influence."

New York Times, Allan Kozinn

Dance Concertare, "The highlight of the program was Eric Funk's prize winning Dance Concertare, a pleasingly delicate trough of sound, heavily leaning in the direction of Penderecki."

San Francisco Examiner, Marilyn Tucker

Pamelia, "The orchestration subtly underpins the conversational vocal line to pain a variety of moods and themes.  Sparse textures prevail in the score...these Britten-like transparencies allow the voice to dominate the texture."

The Opera Journal, Gary Mabry

Earth is New Begun, "The highlight of the evening was Eric Funk's remarkable 'Earth is New Begun'...after a somewhat disconcerting preceding fanfare, Funk achieves some genuine lyricism in the body of the work."

Oregon Journal, Martin Clark

Rhayader, "Funk's music major triumph!  The music immediately captures attention and the imagination."

Oregonian, Robert Linstrom

Rhayader, "It was a beautiful, strange, haunting work."

Enterprise Courier, Leroy Schaap

Dance Concertare, "The highlight of the program was Eric Funk's prize winning Dance Concertare, a pleasingly delicate trough of sound, heavily leaning in the direction of Penderecki."

San Francisco Examiner, Marilyn Tucker

Concerto, Op53, "Funk's concerto is a bold work, full of dramatic thrusts, difficult leaps and soaring lines for the horn.  The work developed its expressionistic complexities in sometimes strident, sometimes muted fashion."

Oregonian, David Stabler

 String Quartet No. 2, an homage to Shostakovich, "The most worthwhile music on this disc is Eric Funk's 11-minute String quartet No 2, an homage to Shostakovich.  Funk's long opening Adagio explores a vein of deeply felt grief in a moving threnody that descends to the depths of unmitigated despair.  Icy high harmonics and grinding chords lead to a benumbed coda, and while ending in bleak resignation, this music manages to attain a moving eloquence.  The violent and abrupt Presto makes an apt and unnerving postscript.  While inspired by Shostakovich, Funk's quartet remains an individual work, and in its construction and intensity of utterance it is both moving and compelling.  All performances are first-rate, especially the Moyzes Quartet's rendering of the Funk Quartet, which is sharply incisive and played with great sensitivity." (MMC Chamber Music Series, Vol 2. Slanicoa/Jablokov. MM July/August 1998, Volume: 21, #6

Fanfare Magazine, Lawrence A. Johnson

"American composer Eric funk has written a number of works for double bass in recent years.  "Aria" was composed in 2017, having originally been commissioned for Teppo-Fest 2016, but was delayed because of illness.  Based on a poem by Finnish poet Jouni Inkala, the musical line follows the English translation, word for wor, in a free-flowing and elegant soliloquy.  Atmospheric and evocative, there are elements of dramatic tension and passion, contrasting phrases of a more lyrical and cantabile nature.  the occasional pizzicato notes ground the piece, varying the colour and texture, and it ends slowly and quietly with a short coda-like phrase with an eerily atmospheric sul ponticello effect.  "Aria" is marked 'contemplative, inward turned' with music of a spare and ethereal nature and was recorded by David Heyes on 25 July 2017 for Prima Facie Records."  [News from the Basement, Newsletter no 56, December 2017-January 2018].

Copyright Eric Funk, 2013