Ericsson studied church music at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, and continued his organ and composition studies at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg in Germany. He also studied privately with Luigi Nono and Olivier Messiaen. Most influential among his composition teachers have been Klaus Huber, Brian Ferneyhough, and Nono.
In 1988, Ericsson was appointed professor of organ repertoire playing at the Piteå School of Music, a department of the Luleå University of Technology. In the summer of 1990 he was instructor at the summer course for new music in Darmstadt and was awarded the prestigious Kranichsteiner Musikpreis. In 1996 Hans-Ola Ericsson was appointed permanent guest professor at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen, Germany. In the spring of 2000 he was named a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and he received the Swedish Society of Composers interpretation prize in 1999. He was from 2002 until 2006 Principal Guest Organist of the Lahti Organ Festival in Finland. From 2005 he is artistic consultant for the Bodø International Organ Festival in Norway. In 2011 he was appointed professor of organ at the McGill University’s Schulich School of Music.
Ericsson has given concerts throughout Europe as well as in Japan and the USA and Canada. He is probably most known for his interpretations of contemporary organ literature, and a notable interpreter of the music of Messiaen. He has made numerous recordings including a highly acclaimed complete recording of Messiaen's organ music, being awarded the Swedish Gramophone Prize annually between 1985 and 1988.
Hans-Ola Ericsson is also engaged in organ-restoration projects as well as holding courses in Europe and the USA. He served as the project leader of the ”Övertorneå-project”, an exhaustive documentation, reconstruction and restoration of the most important instrument of the Swedish Baroque, the organ of the German Church in Stockholm. He has also led the work with the Woehl-built organ in Studio Acusticum concert hall, Piteå. He has held guest professorships in Riga, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Amsterdam, as well as lectured and performed at a large number of leading organ festivals and academic symposia world wide, persistently campaigning for the quality of new music and its right to be heard.
Ericsson's earlier works were closer in style to those of Klaus Huber or Luigi Nono, but this compositional approach became restrictive, and Ericsson went through a period of compositional silence in between 1984/85 and 1999. Ericsson's more recent music draws more freely from various styles, and concentrates, to a certain extent, on musical timbre and space, as well as referential ideas in music. For example, his work "The Four Beast' Amen", for organ and electronics, begins with the organ in dialogue with recordings of organs from Hamburg, Stade, Norden, Cappel and Lüdingworth. The style refers to older organ works, such as those of Frescobaldi or Buxtehude, but with all of the organs overlapping in such a way that everything is blurry. The second movement changes completely in style, concentrating on sounds created by the wind chest of the organ. Some of the later movements of this work focus on differences in tuning between some of the organs that we heard in the beginning.
- Musik för en sjuk värld (Niemandsland II) (Music for a Sick World) for solo viola and chamber orchestra (1980–1981)
- "... and all that remains is silence ..." for choir (1984)
- Melody to the Memory of a Lost Friend for organ and electronics (1985)
- The Four Beasts' Amen for organ and electronics (1999–2000)
- Canzon del Principe - An intabulation on an intabulation for organ and electronics (2002)
- Profile Mode Records
- Profile Presto Classical
- Review - Hans-Ola Ericsson: The Four Beasts' Amen, etc / Hannus by Dominy Clements for MusicWeb International on Arkiv Music website
- Preview by Seattle Times of the concert Bach and More
- Curriculum vitae Luleå University
- Biography Schulich School of Music, McGill University
- Hambræus, Bengt; Broman, Per F.; Engebretsen, Nora A.; Alphonce, Bo Harry. 1998. Crosscurrents and counterpoints: offerings in honor of Bengt Hambræus at 70, p. 282. Göteborgs universitet. ISBN 91-85974-45-5
- Snyder, Kerala J. 2002. The organ as a mirror of its time: north European reflections, 1610-2000, pp. 21 and 341. Oxford University Press, New York. ISBN 0-19-514414-7