Eric Salzman: Composer, Author, Music Theater Innovator


New Releasings

Labor Records in collaboration with Naxos is releasing a series of recordings of my work covering more than half a century! The most recent release is "Jukebox in the Tavern of Love" paired with a new work by Meredith Monk. "The Nude Paper Sermon" and "Wiretap" is a double album containing no fewer than five works; see below for details. "Civilization & its Discontents" is a words-and-music collaboration with Michael Sahl. More information, reviews and ordering (physical or digital editions) is available below or by going to Labor Records.

Jukebox in the Tavern of Love Nude Paper Sermon - Wiretap Civilization Discontents

“Big Jim” is a US Artists project

“Big Jim” has been selected as a US Artists project and the following has gone out over their logo:


UnitedStatesArtists is plugging for my most recent opera/music-theater piece “BIG JIM & THE SMALL-TIME INVESTORS” — libretto by Ned Jackson and myself, with a full musical score by me.

This piece is a major step forward for me and Ned and the help of US Artists is much appreciated — but we need your support. As some of you know, we had a very successful reading last spring at The Flea Theater in downtown NYC and, as a result, the work is scheduled for performance by the Center for Contemporary Opera next year. But this is a shoestring operation and we are way short of funds. The aim of US Artists is to help raise some of those funds and they have a great track record doing this with contributors from all over.

“Big Jim” is about an L.A. con man, a kind of televangist who is peddling a virtual reality scheme that purports to let its viewers imagine that their wildest fantasies have come true. It is a mixture of innovative and popular elements in the script, score and staging that are both amusing and scary…not to mention timely.

I’m sharing this project at this stage of development because I’m trying to raise $12-$15,000 in order to finish up the composition, make the necessary revisions, orchestrate, and meet various other costs connected with printing, copying and setting up auditions — virtually all expenses that fall on me. If you can support this project with a donation, in any capacity or amount, we can make “Big Jim” a reality! Shoring this project with others and sending me your thoughts are also very valuable ways to show your support.

Want to learn more? If you go to you can find lots of information about “BIG JIM” (including a talking head video in which the talking head is me). And, most importantly, information on how to help!

US Artists is a wonderful non-profit whose aim is to help artists create or complete major projects. It was founded by Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson and Prudential Foundations and has supported the work of individual artists since 2005. Donating through USA’s micro-philanthropy initiative, USA Projects, supports the work of accomplished artists all across American and is tax deductible. The great thing about this is that it is directly plugged into the creators; this is an organization with an excellent record helping artists raise the funds that are so desperately needed these days! It’s a great way to help art in America grow!

If this is irrelevant to you, just hit the delete button. Otherwise let me know what you think. Whatever you can do (including any suggestions you might have) will be much appreciated!



Date Posted // February 11, 2013
In Categories // Big Jim and the Small-Time Investors, Music Theater, News, Works and Productions

La Bonne Ame de Setchouan in Montreal with Salzman score

Antoine Laprise is rehearsing a new version of his production of “La Bonne Ame de Setchouan” (“The Good Woman of Szechuan” by Bertolt Brecht) with my music. The production is scheduled for Montreal in mid-March. The score was originally written and performed for a production by the Theatre du Trident in Quebec City in 2002-03.

Date Posted // February 02, 2013
In Categories // Events, La Bonne Ame de Setchouan, Music Theater, News, Works and Productions

a new review

Reviews of the Labor/Naxos release “The Nude Paper Sermon” and “Wiretap”  <> continue to appear. The latest is from Grapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review (Grego Applegate Edwards):

Re: The Nude Paper Sermon: “…A narrator, in a lengthy and sometimes rapid-fire monologue, personifies a sort of voice of the media, pontificating in a disjointed and sometimes surreal manner on anything and everything while an acoustic-electric collage of Babel crowd voices, a Renaissance style vocal group, noise, Boschian effects from a modern hell, all combine to make a soundscape that is both funny, mind expanding and, especially at the time, terrifying. It is one of the better multi-stranded collage pieces of the era, at the same time leaves you with an acute and aesthetically satisfying portrayal of a contemporary world so overloaded with messages and input that meaning is in short supply.”

“…(Wiretap) captures the experimental excitement of the era, some of the excesses of expression the era produced, and the urgent impetus to create relevant works that somehow commented on the vitality and critical impact of the passing scene.”

You can find the full review at <>

Date Posted // December 05, 2012
In Categories // Music Theater, News, Recordings, Reviews, The Nude Paper Sermon, The Nude Paper Sermon, Wiretap, Wiretap

Labor/Naxos to release “Nude Paper Sermon” & “Wiretap”

Labor Records and Naxos will release Eric Salzman’s The Nude Paper Sermon and Wiretap as a double album on October 30, 2012.

The Nude Paper Sermon, the 2nd Nonesuch Records commission, was an innovative music-theater work in every dimension, a multi-media work in recorded form. It features an actor/narrator (Stacy Keach), a Renaissance ensemble (the Nonesuch Consort under Joshua Rifkin with William Zukof, countertenor, Alan Titus, baritone, plus an array of early instruments), a chorus (the N.Y. Motet Singers) and electronic music (from the Columbia/Princeton Electronic Music Studio), all put together in what was the then-new multi-track technology. Texts are by Steven Wade and John Ashbery.

It was Ilhan Mimaroglu, the legendary electronic-music composer, jazz producer and Atlantic Records guru, who asked Salzman to put together an album of his shorter works under the rubric of Wiretap. These ‘wiretaps’ or ‘braintaps’ in sound lead off with Helix, a Quog Music Theater festival performance from the famous WBAI Free Music Store. The title piece, Wiretap, comes from Salzman’s score for Daniel Nagrin’s anti-war dance epic, “The Peloponnesian War“. Queens Collage, an ‘academic festival overture’ and a souvenir of Salzman’s career at Queens College in New York, is made up of ‘found sound’ from an urban collage campus put together in cinéma verité style. Larynx Music, written in the 1960s for Cathy Berberian, was newly recorded at Atlantic by Elise Ross, one of Europe’s leading performers of new music, with composer/guitarist Stanley Silverman and Mimaroglu as producer.

More on this release including reviews and ordering information can be found at <>

Information on the previous Labor/Naxos release in this series, Civilization & Its Discontents (Michael Sahl & Eric Salzman) can be found at <>.


Date Posted // October 18, 2012
In Categories // Music Theater, News, Recordings, The Nude Paper Sermon, The Nude Paper Sermon, Wiretap, Wiretap



Media Alert: Civilization And It’s Disconnections Labor Records

The last time I received a recording for review that referred to itself as an amalgam of anything was a poorly thought out solo piano work trying to be passed off as some sort of blue grass, jazz and classical influence so naturally as a critic if the description is longer than the title of the work in question then I get nervous. Deciding to avoid potential issues and to see if this was a release that would fit the more obvious direction this site is heading, I ran across a review stating “…a brilliant amalgam of jazz, pop, blues and classical forms.” The word hodgepodge immediately came to mind but with the Monty Python like disc cover my curiosity got the better of me.

To say Civilizations And It’s Discontents sidesteps strict categorization is the understatement of the year. Pop, swing and somehow the vibrant New York avant garde element take over and carry the listener on an open ended lyrical excursion to the destination of their choosing. Reviewing the music to what is essentially a theatrical presentation does lend itself to the traditional review. So what is there to say about Civilizations And It’s Discontents?

For an off-off Broadway production originally aired on N.P.R roughly 33 years ago the sound quality is excellent which should not come as a tremendous shock when it comes to anything released on the Naxos or affiliated labels. There is a delightful mix of jazz, pop and classical but what makes the release work is not so much the variety of genres made available but the virtually seamless transition made to each piece of this musical puzzle throughout the rather eclectic presentation but then again – this is musical theatre. The fans of musical theatre will be enthralled with the eclectic and incredibly original presentation that while originally aired in the fall of 1978 could easily be aired as a new work this week. This is Michael Sahl and Eric Salzman taken to the next level. The N.P.R. audience should eat this up with a spoon!

Tracks: Club Bide-A-Wee; Jill’s Apartment, Club Bide-A-Wee.

Personnel: ( Musicians ) Michael Sahl: keyboards ( piano & organ ); Cleve Pozar: drums, percussion.

For More Information:

Review By
Brent Black

There’s another review in Fanfare <> by a critic who seems to be very ambivalent about the work; he wants to say that  it’s dated but then he keeps getting drawn back to it! Hmmmmmm.