Bergman's style ranged widely, from Romanticism in his early works (many of which he later prohibited from being performed) to modernism and primitivism, among other genres. He won the Nordic Council Music Prize in 1994 for his opera Det sjungande trädet.
Bergman studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and afterwards with Heinz Tiessen in Berlin and with Wladimir Vogel in Ascona. Since 1963 he taught composition at the Sibelius Academy, besides working until 1978 as a choir conductor. Bergman is considered a pioneer of modern music in Finland. Because of his training he was considered as a representative of the avant-garde; he developed for example the twelve-tone techniques of Arnold Schönberg learned from Wladimir Vogel. He composed song cycles, cantatas, pieces for piano and for organ, a guitar suite, a chamber concert for flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, viola, cello, percussion and piano and further chamber works. His Requiem for a dead poet (1970) and Colori ed improvvisazioni for orchestra (1973) gave him international recognition. He is also known for his extensive choral output. His latest works include concertos for cello, violin and trumpet.
- Beyer, Anders (1994). "In Search of Silence: A Meeting with Finnish Composer Erik Bergman" Archived 2015-02-17 at the Wayback Machine. Nordic Sounds, Vol 13, pp. 14–17. Online version retrieved 17 February 2015.
- "Hietaniemen hautausmaa – merkittäviä vainajia" (PDF). Helsingin seurakuntayhtymä. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- Shpinitskaya, Julia (2016). A Theory of Multicultural Texts: The Music of Erik Bergman As a Phenomenon of Multicultural Europe. Acta Semiotica Fennica, XLIX. Ph.D. thesis. University of Helsinki. ISBN 978-951-51-2422-7. ISSN 1235-497X.
- Finnish Music Information Centre article on Erik Bergman (checked 23 September 2016).
- Fennica Gehrman's Bergman page with a complete opus list of his works (publisher).
- Obituary of Erik Bergman in The Independent.