Eric Salzman: Composer, Author, Music Theater Innovator


Labor Records

Jukebox in the Tavern of Love

CD Cover Art for Civilization & Its Discontents

Jukebox in the Tavern of Love is a modern take on the Italian Renaissance form of the madrigal comedy, commissioned and performed by the Western Wind Vocal Ensemble. The text, by Valeria Vasilevski, portrays six strangers stranded in a bar during a huge storm when the lights go out; to pass the time, each one tells a personal story of love, earthy and spiritual. This unusual work is paired with another Western Wind commission, Basket Rondo by Meredith Monk.

Nude Paper Sermon & Wiretap

CD Cover Art for Civilization & Its Discontents

The Nude Paper Sermon with texts by Stephen Wade and John Ashbery, is a ground-breaking music-theater piece for actor, Renaissance consort, chorus and electronics; the actor is Stacy Keach, the music director is Joshua Rifkin. This work is paired in a double album with the four shorter works that constitute Wiretap: Helix performed by Quog Music Theater; the title piece with the voice of Daniel Nagrin; Larynx Music for voice, guitar and electronics, performed by Elise Ross and Stanley Silverman; and Queens Collage, an ‘academic festival overture’ made out of the found sounds of Queens College in New York.

Civilization & Its Discontents

CD Cover Art for Civilization & Its Discontents

Civilization and Its Discontents is the title of a famous essay of Sigmund Freud about the ills of society. Civilization & Its Discontents is also the title of a ground-breaking new music theater piece, a lively and biting musical satire written and composed jointly by Michael Sahl and Eric Salzman. It was originally a prize-winning off-off-Broadway music theater comedy, a music-theater recording for National Public Radio that had one of the largest air plays of any work of its kind, and a Prix Italia winner that was aired on radio stations around the world.

The recorded form of the work, especially produced for radio and disc by the authors, originally issued by Nonesuch and now re-issued by Labor, uses the form of a musical radio drama to capture the dark side of the so-called ‘me’ generation in a whirlwind of ‘break-a-leg’ dance music, pick-ups, one-night stands, frantic phone calls, egocentric confrontations and mad man hijinks.

Carlos Arachnid invites us to join him and his friends in Club Bide-a-wee whose motto is “If it feels good, do it!” Dancing alternates with ‘freeze-frame’ moments of high anxiety, angry words and sexual come-ons.

Scene II is in Jill Goodheart’s bedroom where a seduction scene is interrupted by a constant string of phone calls, the arrival of Jill’s boyfriend and the deus ex machina appearance of Arachnid who brings us back to Club Bide-a-wee for a deconstructed dance orgy and an ironic morality.

Moments of ’80s retro alternate with stunning sound images, a relentless musical flow, seduction music of extreme beauty and a social commentary that is as amusing as it is scary and remarkably up-to-date.

Nonesuch Records

The Nude Paper Sermon


The Unknown Kurt Weill

The Tango Project

Two to Tango

The Palm Court

Civilization and Its Discontents

Finnadar Records


Music by Eric Salzman, Helix (Quog Music Theater), Larynx Music (Elie Ross [voice], Stanley Silverman [guitar]), Wiretap (voice of Daniel Nagrin), and Queens Collage (environmental tape piece)

Koch International

Casino Paradise

Public Radio

Civilization and Its Discontents

The Passion of Simple Simon



Revelation in the Courthouse Park