Eric Salzman: Composer, Author, Music Theater Innovator


Press for Civilization and its Discontents

“…a brilliant amalgam of jazz, pop, blues and classical forms, cleverly developed and timed to make the satiric points stand out in the most vivid musical and theatrical terms.”

Peter G. Davis, The New York Times

“…a work that builds up its own undulating momentum and sustains it so thoroughly that the audience boogies long after the music stops. A skillful, rhythmic integration of words, music and movement is responsible for the compelling power of this stunning show.”

Show Business

“…jazz and pop elements in an understandable idiom, in addition to avantgarde traits originating in the NY experimental scene… swinging melodies that seem to stem from Gershwin, combined with strong, somewhat abrupt but exciting harmonies and surprising rhythmical accents that are reminiscent of Thelonious Monk… Kurt Weill for our time.”

Doron Nagan, Algemeen Dagblad (The Netherlands)

“…a delightful, tuneful satire…not everything is funny [because] the underlying subject is something very real… This is a wonderful work.”

Rita H. Mead, Newsletter of the Institute for Studies in American Music

Press for The New Music Theater: Seeing the Voice, Hearing the Body


Anatomie eines Mediums / Anatomy of a Medium
German (PDF)
English (PDF)

“As an artist who has worked between the cracks of art forms since the 1960’s, I applaud Salzman and Dési for providing a fresh and inclusive survey of the important and evolving field of new music theater—a form that continues to expand our perception of what is possible in art that lives and breathes.”

Meredith Monk

“The New Music Theater traces the complicated evolution of many artistic traditions and leads to a deeper understanding of the state of new music theater today. The authors infuse their analysis with perspective that is certain to provoke debate—as well as a desire to learn more about the context and direction of new creation in the realm of singing theater.”

Marc Scorca, President and CEO, Opera America

“This valuable book appears like Orpheus to guide the reader through the land of that complex and unpredictable reality which is the music theater of our time. This book tells us about music theater not just as a show, but as a way of bringing onto the stage what the real world cannot show us.”

Giorgio Battistelli, composer-in-residence at the Düsseldorf Opera and music director of the Arena di Verona

“A very good read of contemporary music history that has been missing until now. Bravo!”

Michel Rostain, Stage Director, Librettist and Director, Scène nationale de Quimper


Laiks (Time)

Notes from a Cultural Journalist in New York
Review by Eleanora Sturms
Latvian weekly newspaper
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Songs for a Drizzly Evening
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Press for Jukebox in the Tavern of Love

Photo from Performance of Jukebox in the Tavern of Love by Eric SalzmanThe Western Wind production of Jukebox in the Tavern of Love by Valeria Vasilevski and Eric Salzman at The Flea Theatre in downtown Manhattan (Valeria Vasilevski directing)

The New York Times

All in the Same Boat, Singing Away the Blues
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The Daily News

A Wedding and Two Madrigals
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Time Out New York

Concert Preview
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Playbill Arts

Interview: Salzman and Vasilevski’s Jukebox in the Tavern of Love
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Variations On An Opening Setting
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New Music Connoisseur

Review by Randy Wolff
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Conversation with Eric Salzman and Valeria Vasilevski

On the Making of Jukebox in the Tavern of Love
From a conversation held at the Arsenal, Central Park, New York, on the occasion of the first performance of All That is Left of Me, the first completed number from Jukebox.
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Press for The True Last Words of Dutch Schultz

New Music Connoisseur

Review by Martin Hennessy
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“Salzman’s Music Theater a Revelation”

“An Alternative to Joop van der Ende”

“Salzman Wants a Music Theater for Everyone”

“…The public was given the chance of getting to know “the new music theater” as the American composer calls his creations and that new music theater turned out to be a revelation…”

“…In the midst of the recent flood of musicals here, this piece is a welcome relief and has artistic quality and style. Eric Salzman writes mini operas. He succeeds in producing effect with a minimum of resources, also thanks to his collaborators [Valeria Vasilevski and Theo Bleckmann]…”

“…The beginning of The True Last Words of Dutch Schultz has real theatrical power. We see the silhouette of a violinist accompanying the last moments of Schultz with sharp, out-of-tune notes. Then an a capella quartet—policeman, nurse, priest and gangster—sings of Schultz’ longing for his mother…”

“…The piece is all about the confessions of a dying bandit… Schultz’s fears are made clear in strong scenes like the one in which the protagonist carries out hellish stunts on roller skates. Dutch Schultz is a vocal and physical tour de force for Theo Bleckmann. The production [by Valeria Vasilevski, Jos Groenier and Marc Heinz] makes good and clever use of lighting and special effects. The music plays the most important role. What Salzman’s score brings in terms of lyricism and drama—with just one violin, a tuba, percussion and two keyboards—is unforgettable…”

“…The American composer Eric Salzman wants to pump new life into opera…this is a striking example of the new music theater that the composer has in mind and a better alternative to the musicals of Joop van der Ende [leading Dutch producer of TITANIC and other musicals]…”

“…Through flashbacks and clever picture-montage, the public seemed to virtually experience the nightmares and strange fantasies…The sinister milieu is sketched with a mix of projection on canvas, historical pictures and stylized mime and shadow play…[The True Last Words of] Dutch Schultz is well and tightly directed [by Valeria Vasilevski], the best moment being when Schultz is being pushed from one interrogator to another, accentuated by a choreography in which Theo Bleckmann as Schultz tries to stay on his roller skates and, at the same time, manages to sing everything clearly and expressively. Also the Nightmare scene remains in the mind’s eye. At this point, Schultz’s breathing—nervous, squeaky, flickering and rumbling—takes over the function of the music…The music, of the same standard as the performance and the stage direction, moves at the crosspoint of minimalistic-serious and show-musical/opera. Salzman uses two keyboards and drums with violin and tuba and elaborates on the basic ideas only as really necessary.”

“…Salzman set out in the early 70s to create a new kind of music theater that would be different from opera…The result of Salzman’s efforts sounds surprisingly different from what his biography might suggest. No unintelligible avantgarde but swinging melodies that seem to stem from Gershwin, combined with strong, somewhat abrupt but exciting harmonies and surprising rhythmical accents that are reminiscent of Thelonious Monk. Not a music that one would expect from someone who studied composition with the most modern American composers of the time…Salzman seems now to have found his way with music theater pieces filled with popular elements. Is he perhaps a kind of Kurt Weill of the 90s?”

Translations of excerpts from articles and reviews that appeared in Amsterdam, Breda, Eindhoven, Haarlem and Rotterdam newspapers.

Press for Strike Up the Band

“COSP had the privilege of premiering the Gershwin/Salzman Strike Up the Band Suite at the Fondation des Etats-Unis, Paris, France, on Thursday, June 15, 2006. Salzman’s orchestration is smooth and sparkling, combining traditional single winds and the broader sounds of a larger string section with snappy solo writing for trumpet, sax, piano, and drum set. The bassoon and clarinet parts are particularly virtuosic and the concert master revels in a marvellous solo on “The Man I Love”. The audience, thrilled to discover the grace, vitality and wit that distinguish this tuneful, edgy political satire. greeted the world premiere with shouts and smiles, which lasted well into the après-concert cocktail! This orchestral suite is an uplifting double homage to the talent and intelligence of two great twentieth-century masters of music.”

Elizabeth Askren, Music Director, Choeur et Orchestre de Sciences Po (COSP)

Press for Noah

NOAH, an opera by Michael Sahl and Eric Salzman now playing at the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged, 40 West 68th Street, is an agreeable entertainment built around the biblical story of the Flood. Mr. Sahl and Mr. Salzman collaborated on both words and music for Noah. It is alternately funny and sad, a morality play without too much moralizing, with an eclectic score. A character called Godthefather sings a florid, Handelian aria; chorales coexist with rock, jazz and tango; modal show tunes that might have pleased Fannie Brice are flavored with a pinch or two of Berg and Weill. The cast, made up of professionals and volunteers, is lively and attractive. Bertilla Baker, as Mrs. Noah, was particularly fine, a genuine blues belter with a healthy voice and meticulous pitch acuity. Louis-Edward Smart sang Godthefather with appropriate command, while Richard Frisch’s Noah was funny and humane. Maria Maxwell was a captivating Love Goddess, singing sweetly while bumping and grinding with an acrobat’s agility. The cast also included Paul Binotto, Julie Minogue, Ron Gibbs, Nancy Holcombe, Sam Scalamoni, Lee Winston and Tony Floyd. Noah was produced by Howard Pflanzer, directed by Paul Zimet, with musical direction by Constantine Kitsopoulos.”

The New York Times

Press for Stauf

The New York Times

Reworking Faust
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