Eric J. Schwarz, musician

August 15, 2011

Eric J. Schwarz, 48, a computer programmer for the federal government and a musician who performed locally under the stage name Erico Noir, died July 30 at the Washington Home hospice in the District. He had brain cancer, his wife said.

Mr. Schwarz, an Arlington County resident, pursued both professions despite being blind. Computer and braille technology allowed him to work as a programmer at the Environmental Protection Agency, where he had been employed for 10 years, and at the Office of Naval Intelligence, where he worked previously.

Throughout his government career, Mr. Schwarz performed as a soloist and with small groups at venues including Twins Jazz on U Street NW, Two Nineteen Restaurant in Alexandria and Whitlow’s on Wilson in Arlington. He also played at festivals such as Taste of DC and Taste of Bethesda.

Mr. Schwarz was primarily a pianist but in the past 15 years had also picked up the accordion and the kalimba, an African instrument. In 2001, he produced a solo CD called “Thumbnail Sketches” in collaboration with Mongezi “Chris” Ntaka of the local band Mahala.

Eric Joseph Schwarz was born in Fukuoka, Japan, where his father was stationed with the Air Force. He lost his sight in childhood because of cancer of the retina.

Mr. Schwarz grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., and attended a school for the deaf and blind for the early years of his schooling. He graduated from Duke University in 1984 with degrees in music and computer science.

Survivors include his wife of 10 years, Sandy Smith Schwarz of Arlington County; his parents, Dr. George Schwarz and and Eva-Maria Schwarz, both of Jacksonville; three sisters; and three brothers.

Emily Langer is a reporter on The Washington Post’s obituaries desk. She has written about national and world leaders, celebrated figures in science and the arts, and heroes from all walks of life.