WUNC-TV: Ericourt Forum of Music and Arts

Image: Daniel Ericourt playing the piano.

Daniel Ericourt (1903-1998) was an internationally renowned concert pianist and music educator. As an artist-in-residence at UNC Greensboro during the 1960s and early 1970s, he was a boon to the music program and an enthusiastic ambassador of music education in the community.  

Born in Jossigny, France, Ericourt was a child prodigy and was known for his virtuoso performances of French composer Claude Debussy’s work. At age 13, he appeared during the same performance as Claude Debussy, which began an association that led Ericourt to become the foremost interpreter of Debussy’s work. A graduate of Paris Conservatory, where he was a classmate of American composer and pianist Aaron Copland, Ericourt began a distinguished career as a concert pianist. In 1928, he came to the United States to perform and eventually teach. 

Image: Daniel and Jayne Ericourt with Mrs. Ericourt’s sons (l-r)
Paul, Bryan, and Tommy Reich after a Sunday
evening concert in their Greensboro home.

Following time on the music faculties at the Cincinnati and Peabody Conservatories and at the University of Illinois, UNCG was fortunate to host Ericourt as an artist-in-residence beginning in 1963. In 1967, he married a fellow concert pianist and former student of his, Jayne Winfield. The couple remained in Greensboro where they raised their family. The Ericourts regularly performed across the United States and in South America, including giving local performances in their Greensboro home studio.  

Ericourt remained in his position at UNCG until 1976 when he retired from teaching at 72, though he continued his performing career for many years afterward. His last public performance in Greensboro was at age 90 when he played works by Debussy at a UNCG music symposium. Arthur Tollefson, former Dean of UNCG’s School of Music, reported that “Ericourt’s performance was stunning.” He continued, “I won’t say stunning for a man of 90, because it would have been a stunning performance for a man of 45. The fact that he was 90 made it miraculous.” (Anonymous) 

Image: WUNC-TV Studios in UNCG’s
Carmichael Building.

During his tenure at UNCG, Ericourt was ahead of his time in recognizing the medium of television as a tool to educate the public about the performing arts. In 1965, with the support of Lee Rigsby, who was Dean of the School of Music at the time, he began filming a television show. The Ericourt Forum of Music and Arts was filmed in UNCG television studios in the Carmichael Building on campus and aired on WUNC-TV weekly. The show often featured Ericourt, music faculty colleagues, or music students, though Ericourt was committed to the show also including performances by internationally known artists from New York and elsewhere. Some episodes were master classes in piano performance, but content ranged from vocal and varied instrumental performances to the eventual addition of poetry readings and art. 

Image: Behind the scenes at WUNC-TV Studios.

In 1970, the Ericourt Forum team visited Spain to film several segments with European artists attending “Música en Compostela,” an annual summer course in music performance and composition cofounded by Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia and held in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.  

Daniel Ericourt’s Forum of Music and Arts was incredibly well-received statewide and was excellent publicity for the UNCG School of Music and its talented faculty and students. The show was so successful in its first year that it began airing twice weekly thereafter and remained under the guidance of Ericourt until his retirement in 1976.  

Image: UNCG students circa 1965 watching
television in one of the campus dorms.

Ericourt’s legacy as a performer and as an educator continues to be celebrated at UNCG. He helped bring many prominent musicians to campus during his tenure and an artist residency in the School of Music was named for him and continues to enrich and educate the community.  

 UNCG School of Music, College of Visual and Performing Arts 

Image: Daniel Ericourt playing piano.

To listen to a recording of Daniel Ericourt playing the piano, visit UNCG’s Harold Schiffmann Music Library: Library Catalog or, if you are not in the immediate area, there are several recordings of Ericourt available on YouTube: 

Daniel Ericourt plays Debussy’s Children’s Corner

Daniel Ericourt plays Debussy’s Masques  

Etudes, Books I & II, L. 136: I. Pour les “cinq doigts” (D’après Monsieur Czerny)  


Anonymous. Daniel Ericourt 1903-1998. (1998, Nov). Piano & Keyboard, Issue 195, 12.  

Images courtesy of the Historical Print Photograph Collection, UA 0104, and Pine Needles, yearbook 1965. Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives

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