Sad news: Death of an important US composer

Sad news: Death of an important US composer


norman lebrecht

November 14, 2017

Friends are reporting the death last night of Eric Salzman, a formidable presence in US music for 60 years.

He co-founded the American Music Theater Festival and the Center for Contemporary Opera.

An influential music critic and well-known broadcaster, he produced major recordings for Nonesuch, was editor of Musical Quarterly and wrote several books.

His scores include Jukebox in the Tavern of Love, Cassandra Ground Zero and Civilization & Its Discontents.

His death today was reported by the CCO dramaturg, Eugenia Arsenis.

Eric was 84.


Our sympathies to his wife, Lorna, and their daughters.


  • Dan P. says:

    I am sorry to read of his passing. My first encounter with him was through his paperback survey of 20th century music. That was when I was a very young teenage but while it was a general work, it laid out the entire 20th century musical world for me to explore as did his monthly record reviews in Stereo Review – one of the few connections to classical music there was if one lived in the hinterlands as I did.

    Our paths crossed only once – some 10 years later – when Milton Babbitt introduced him to me when we happened to be sitting next to one another at my first major performance in New York. He was a very nice fellow who I respected greatly, even if our esthetics were not the same. While I didn’t otherwise know him otherwise, he was a familiar part of the local musical culture going back to the 1970s. May he Rest in Piece.


    A wonderful, enlightened and influential scholar!

  • Jim Schaeffer says:

    Thank you. We will have a detailed press release about Eric’s death very shortly and will hold a memorial concert in late February.

    He will be very missed.

    Jim Schaeffer
    Center for Contemporary Opera