Manfred Eicher (born 9 July 1943, Lindau, Germany) is a German record producer and the founder of ECM Records.
Eicher studied music at the Academy of Music in Berlin. He is a record producer and a double-bass player. In 1969 he founded ECM Records (Edition of Contemporary Music) in Munich. Some of the famous artists he has recorded over the last 40 years are Keith Jarrett, John Abercrombie, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Jack DeJohnette, Anouar Brahem, Dave Holland, Pat Metheny, Ralph Towner, Terje Rypdal, Steve Kuhn, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
A notable record ECM released in its early years was The Köln Concert, a solo piano performance by Keith Jarrett. Nearly as well known is Pat Metheny's early recording American Garage.
In 1984 Eicher started a sublabel, ECM New Series, for classical music. Some of the artists whose work was released on the New Series were Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt, John Adams, Meredith Monk, and the mediaeval composer Pérotin. Perhaps the most remarkable record was the bestseller Officium (1994), a collaboration between Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble, performing compositions by Cristóbal de Morales, Pérotin and others.
In 1992 Manfred Eicher co-directed and co-wrote the film Holozän (Man in the Holocene). In 2002 he wrote the score for the film Kedma.
Eicher has produced most of the records released on his label. Each jazz record takes an average of two days to record and one day to mix. Most have been recorded with Jan Erik Kongshaug (of Talent Studios and later Rainbow Studios) as sound engineer. Eicher has produced more than a thousand albums to date.
Eicher's deceptively simple aesthetic is unfailingly harmonious. He records musicians he likes, allows them to trust their own instincts, and plays a directorial role. (Jazz Review)
In a 2014 interview, Eicher said, "I believe the producer's role is to capture the music he likes, to present it to those who don't know it yet."
- 1976 Down Beat: Producer of the Year
- 1986 German Record Critics Award
- 1998 Music Prize of the City of Munich
- 1999 Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star from the King of Sweden
- 1999 V Class Order of the Cross of St. Mary's Land from the President of Estonia
- 2000 Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Brighton
- 2001 Commander of the Royal Order of Merit from the King of Norway
- 2002 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Classical, nominated in the same category in 2003, 2004, and 2018
- 2007 Bundesverdienstkreuz (Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany)
- 2008 Down Beat: Producer of the Year
- 2009 Down Beat: Producer of the Year
- 2010 Down Beat: Lifetime Achievement Award and Producer of the Year
- 2012 Down Beat: Producer of the Year
- 2013 Down Beat: Producer of the Year
- 2014 Down Beat: Producer of the Year
- 2015 Down Beat: Producer of the Year
- 2016 Down Beat: Producer of the Year
- 2017 Down Beat: Producer of the Year
- 2018 Down Beat: Producer of the Year