At the age of fifteen, Gustafsson placed well in the EBU Young Musician competition in Copenhagen, and since then he has performed world wide both as a soloist and as a chamber musician. He has appeared with countless distinguished orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Bournemouth SO, the Berlin RSO, Brisbane Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra and Hobart Symphony Orchestra in Australia, the Netherlands RSO, the Danish RSO, the Swedish RSO and the Stockholm Philharmonic, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Jerusalem SO, the Washington National SO, the New York and Vienna Chamber Orchestras, Camerata Bern and the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra. He has appeared with nearly all Finnish orchestras.
Jan-Erik Gustafsson has collaborated with some of the most outstanding maestros, including Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Okko Kamu, Leif Segerstam, Leonid Grin, Yan-Pascal Tortelier, Andrew Litton, Neeme Järvi, Daniel Harding, and many others.
In 1994, Jan-Erik Gustafsson signed a contract with the American YCA agency. Consequently, he regularly gives solo recitals on tour in the USA, Europe and the Far East at venues such as Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and the Brahms Hall in Vienna, Barbican Hall , Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, and many more. At chamber music festivals worldwide, he has collaborated with Pinchas Zukerman, Ralf Gothóni, Leif-Ove Andsnes, Paavali Jumppanen,Arto Satukangas, Leonidas Kavakos, Liana Isakadze, Ivry Gitlis, and countless others.
In 1997 Jan-Erik Gustafsson received a personal invitation from maestro Mstislav Rostropovich to perform the Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante at the Cello Congress with the St. Petersburgh Philharmonic Orchestra in St. Petersburgh, Russia. Jan-Erik Gustafsson has made several recordings for Ondine, claiming world-wide critical acclaim and praise for his interpretations. His disc featuring Cello Sonatas by Szymanowski, Kodály and Schnittke (ODE 827-2) was nominated Record of the Year in 1994 and his Englund Cello Concerto disc (ODE 951-2) was nominated Record of the Year 2000, both by the Finnish IFPI.
Jan-Erik Gustafsson has recorded the Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and maestro Sakari Oramo, receiving outstanding praise and critique from all over the world (Washington Post calling the performance being "set ablaze with fury and grandeur.") Jan-Erik Gustafsson has given numerous masterclasses in Europe, USA and Asia, and currently teaches at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. Since 1996 Jan-Erik Gustafsson is the artistic director of the Loviisa Sibelius Festival in Finland, He currently plays on a Stefano Scarampella from 1890.