Ēriks Ešenvalds was born on January 26th, 1977 in Priekule, Latvia. He studied at the Priekule School of Music (1983–1991), at the Liepāja 1st Secondary School (1992–1995), and the Latvian Baptist Congregation Theological Seminary (1995–1997). He received his Bachelor’s degree (2002) and Master’s degree (2004) in composition with Selga Mence at the Latvian Academy of Music. He furthered his study at international master classes, including the Latvian Young Musician Camp in Ogre (2000, 2002) with Martin Herman and Dana Paul Perna, as well as the De Villecroze Summer Academy in France (with Richard Danielpour, 2001), Česki Krumlov in the Czech Republic with Michael Finnissy, Guy Reibel, and Marek Kopelent (2001), in Germany with Klaus Huber, the international GAUDEAMUS music week in Amsterdam, the Netherlands with Trevor Wishart, David Land, Richard Ayres (2003), in France with Jonathan Harvey and Philippe Manoury (2004), in Norway with Ole Lützow-Holm and Nils Henrik Asheim (2005/2006), and others.
He has been rewarded with the Jāzeps Vītols (1999, 2002) as well as the VERNISĀŽA Musical Centre and Latvian Creative Fund (2002), and the Latvian Culture Ministry Scholarships (2003, 2004). For his work IESPAIDI SĀREMĀ (Impressions of Saaremaa), he received an honourable mention diploma at the International Clarinet Association organized competition in Miami in 2000. He received the Latvian Great Music Prize in 2005 and 2007. For his work Legende de la Femme Emmuree (Legend of a Walled-In Woman) he was awarded first place at the 2006 International Rostrum for Composers in the Young Composers category.
His music has been performed around the world, especially in Germany, Norway, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. He has worked as a teacher at the Riga 31st Secondary School. As of 2002, he is a member of the Latvian Composers’ Union. For 2011-2013 he holds the position of Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge.