(Oh, how we love those pierogi: phonograph record. 1983. WRHS Collection.)
Not everyone designs their family living room to deliver the highest quality sound possible, but Jack Saul did. Saul was an extraordinary local collector of music recordings, memorabilia, and all kinds of printed materials related to the performing arts. His collections in the WRHS Library will teach future generations both about the sounds of the city and about our role as stewards of our local musical heritage.
The Library Archives hold two collections from Jack Saul, in addition to some unprocessed materials. The Jack Saul Papers and the Jack Saul Audio Visual Collection illustrate the range of Saul’s interests and offer us a look into the work of performers both famous and unknown. Saul’s passion was classical music, but that did not stop him from collecting recordings of all kinds.
The papers include an 1893 program from the National Saengerfest, a German competition between singing groups that was held in Cleveland that year, and a 1960 program from the Case Institute of Technology Chamber Orchestra. Among the recordings in the audio visual collection, local “hits” such as “Oh, How We Love Those Pierogi”, the theme song of the Joel Rose Radio Show, and “The Buzzard Song”, from Alex Bevan and the Buzzard Band for WMMS, are stored alongside the work of the composer Pierre Boulez and the harpist Alice Chalifoux.
Saul, a graduate of Glenville High School and Western Reserve University, lived with his family in South Euclid and owned Quality Home Furniture on Woodland. A Cleveland Jewish News profile from 1978 states that Saul had over 100,000 records in his private collection, surely a fraction of what he later amassed. Those records were stored upstairs in the furniture store, in a downtown warehouse, and in his home. Saul and his family took steps to dispose of his vast collection before his death in 2009. The Cleveland Orchestra and the Judaica Sound Archives, now part of Florida Atlantic University Libraries, are just two of the institutions benefiting from Saul’s generosity. WRHS also holds the records of the Sir Thomas Beecham Society, a group that promoted the work of the well-known English conductor and that Saul led as President.
Above all, Saul knew music and what to collect. He collected the recordings of the classical music he loved, but he could also recognize what was unique and sure to interest others. Saul shared his knowledge of music and awareness of history by collecting and making his collections available to others. His presence on the local music scene is still missed by many.
Learn more about the Jewish American Archives HERE.