Eric Salzman: Composer, Author, Music Theater Innovator


new review of Nude Paper Sermon & Wiretap

Here is a new review by Dustin Mallory of “The Nude Paper Sermon” and “Wiretap” from the current (April/May) issue of Cadence. More information, listening excerpts, etc. are at <>

“The career of Eric Salzman includes the titles of music critic, author, educator, academic, and producer. His work in these areas frequently overshadows his wonderful gifts as a composer and a visionary of the future of musical theatre. This two-disc release reissues the late ‘60s and early ‘70s performances of his musical drama “Wiretap,” and probably his most famous composition, “The Nude Paper Sermon.” Both pieces are very difficult to perform, but the ensembles successfully handle the undertaking.

“The Nude Paper Sermon” blurs the lines of time and genre by mixing the sounds of a Renaissance consort and The New York Motet Singers, with a modern inclusion of electronic sounds and an actor/narrator. The actor positions himself as a media/cultural voice that frequently dates the performance to the late ‘60s with references to segregation, Pete Seeger, and Martha Graham. The collage of sounds personifies the second half of the 20th Century as an intricate and often overwhelming experience of overstimulation and complication.

“Wiretap” is the slightly lesserknown collection of four movements on American life. Each subject seeks to “tap” into the mind of the listener to discover an awareness of the self and its multifarious relationships with the world. Spatial existence, discomfort, manifestation, struggle, fantasy, and reality are all explored using musical sensibilities. Philosophically, the piece seems to suggest that music is not the “art in life,” but rather that music, social interactions, and media as an entire experience, are the “art of life.” From a musical perspective, innovative techniques in vocalization, electro-acoustic textures, and instrumentation are explored. Silverman’s guitar plays a fascinating role juxtaposed against Ross’s voice. Nagrin’s voiced sounds seem to symbolize
the haunting and longing nature of the human spirit for something unknown. The real interest here will be how this compressed psychosomatic journey will affect the twenty-first century listener.”

Premiere of “La Bonne ame” in Montreal

The premiere of “La Bonne ame de Setchouan” (a French translation of the Brecht “Good Person of Szechuan”)  had its premiere last night in the Charles-Valois Studio-Theater  of the College Lionel-Groulx Theater School, in the Quebec town of Sainte-Therese in outskirts of Montreal. This is a completely new and unconventional production by Antoine Laprise that uses the score that I originally wrote for the Theatre du Trident in Quebec City, adapted to the style of the production. The performance was very well received by the sold-out audience and I hope to have some pictures to post in the next few days.

Date Posted // March 14, 2013
In Categories // News

A new production of Brecht

I am writing this from Montreal where a new production of the Bertolt Brecht “Good Person of Sechuan” (“La Bonne Ame de Setchouan” in French) is taking place tonight (the dress rehearsal was last night and there is a preview this afternoon). The production is by Antoine Laprise who directed a previous production at the Theatre du Trident in Quebec City a few years using my newly commissioned score. My Brecht Suite was fashioned out of that music and this was subsequently performed by Laila Salins with accordionist Bill Schimmel and the New Tango Project at the Southampton Cultural Center, as part of the Accord/Discord program produced by the Center for Contemporary Opera at the cell in the Chelsea district of NYC and then on tour in Eastern Europe. Now the score has been re-adapted for this new production at the theater school of the College Lionel-Groulx in Sainte-Therese in the outskirts of Montreal (perhaps the major theater school in Quebec, equivalent to Yale Drama or Juilliard).

This is indeed a new production — completely reimagined by Antoine with this excellent cast of young performers. To give a small idea of the differences: the gods of the original are now three goddesses who come down to earth to look for a good woman but also to go shopping. Instead of a tobacco store, the heroine runs a shopping mart filled with cheap consumer goods. The Opium Song is still there along with a bit of the Brechtian revolutionary fervor but the whole social-political aspect of the work comes into sharper focus. Instead of the violins and accordion of the earlier production, there is a rock band with guitars, keyboard and drums so the music now has more swing (although that was already in the original version) and, on many occasions, a strong rock feeling (not there before). It was all a bit startling but thought-provoking and a lot of fun.

Date Posted // March 13, 2013
In Categories // Events, La Bonne Ame de Setchouan, Music Theater, News, Works and Productions