Twin Cities violist found dead near Stone Arch Bridge

Violist Eric Larss Peterson has died. He was 42. His body was found on the river shoreline near the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis on Saturday. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office will not be releasing the cause of death, as it was determined no foul play was involved.

Peterson lived most of his life in Minneapolis, and performed in the Loring String Quartet, the Helios Quartet, and the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble. He also filled in with both the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra.

Paul Walsh of the Star Tribune reports that while exceptionally talented, Peterson suffered from persistent bouts of mental illness.

As a teenager, Peterson was in the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies while attending the Academy of Holy Angels High School, where he was in theater. After graduating in 1987, he studied music at the University of Southern California but had to return to Minneapolis when “mental illness reared its ugly head,” said his mother, Becky Peterson.

Eric Peterson resumed his studies at the University of Minnesota and received his degree in viola performance. In a nod to his talent, he immediately became the Toledo Symphony Orchestra’s principal viola.

According to his family, Peterson was homeless and was at the hospital the day before his body was found.

  • Sherri Kalm

    Haven’t seen Eric – otherwise known as SkyDog – in years, as trying to find an Eric Peterson in Mpls like locating a needle in a haystack. He was not only a very talented musician but also a kind, compassionate soul and fantastically fun person to to be with. This pint is for you SkyDog wish you were here.

  • Eric E. E. Oberg

    From the first philosophy class we had together, to the last gig we played together, I’m honored to have known him, and called him a friend. Eric will live fondly in my memories.

  • Angie Lewis

    Dear Eric, I will not tell you to rest in peace as I know you will not take my advice. You will always be loved by so many people, including me. I love you dear friend.

  • David Fick

    I was a friend of Eric’s at USC. As an incoming freshman (he was an upper classman), he was like an older brother to me: he introduced me to the world of French art and literature. He was a truly special person: In the twenty-some years since I last saw him (which was in Los Angeles), I’ve never met anyone quite like him. I still have a collection of poems he had written in the 1980s: they reveal the soul of someone who felt very deeply and was uniquely precocious.

    • Marianne Combs

      Thanks for the remembrance, David.