Family of Renowned Cleveland Music Collector Donates Tens of Thousands of Recordings to FAU Libraries
BOCA RATON, FL – The family of Jack Saul, a renowned Cleveland music collector, has gifted about 10,000 unique Jewish records to Florida Atlantic University’s Judaica Sound Archives, which already held one of the world’s largest collections of preserved and digitized Judaic audio recordings. Another 50,000 vintage 78-rpm records from Saul’s collection will be used to establish a vintage records archive at FAU Libraries. In addition, 500 jazz LPs from the gift were added to the library’s extensive jazz collection.
Saul’s gift contained many rare and popular 78 rpms, LP albums and reel-to-reel tapes. While some of the recordings were new titles for the JSA, others were duplicates and replaced recordings in the archives that were not in as good condition. Some of the recordings had never been played, were sealed in their original wrapping and bore price stickers.
There were some complete collections of renowned Jewish performers, and such rare finds as a copy of Sophie Tucker’s 1945 Decca album featuring three 78 rpm records autographed by Tucker in November 1948; and the 1948 recording of “Brooklyn Baseball Cantata” with a copy of the sheet music, which originally sold for $1.25, written by Robert Merrill, one of the Metropolitan Opera’s most acclaimed baritones.
“This is, by far, the largest single donation of Judaica recordings we’ve ever received,” said Nathan Tinanoff, founder and director of the JSA at the Wimberly Library on FAU’s Boca Raton campus. “Jack Saul’s Judaica collection is in excellent condition and was said to be one of the finest private collections in the country. The JSA is fortunate to be the recipient of such a collection.”
Before he died in May at the age of 86, Saul visited the JSA in February. He became acquainted with the archives through mutual friends of JSA’s sound archivist Ben Roth-Aroni. Saul was so impressed that he told his wife, Hinda, and their children, Marlene, Howard and Ken, that he would like the Judaica portion of his collection to be eventually housed at the archives.
Music and collecting music was Saul’s passion and life. He bought entire collections from dealers and other collectors. His records spilled over into the basement, dining room, hallways and other living spaces of his home and place of business. After Saul’s death, his family discovered two floors of their family-owned furniture store packed with recordings floor to ceiling.
Tinanoff and JSA employees traveled to Cleveland several times to see, sort and box up recordings, before returning to Boca Raton to unload the first truckload in September. A second tractor trailer load of recordings will arrive from Cleveland in spring 2010 and will contain almost twice as many recordings as the first shipment.
Marlene Englander, a Cleveland musician and librarian, said it is fitting that a portion of her father’s collection was gifted to FAU Libraries, where educators, students and scholars will be able to use the recordings for research. “He was always sharing the collection with other people and making it available,” Englander said. “There were always people in our house listening to music.”
One fellow music lover who visited the Saul home to hear his Judaic recordings was Steven Greenman, a violinist whom Saul heard play at concerts in Cleveland. “Jack was a generous man and my colleagues in the klezmer world would call me when they were coming to Cleveland to see if they could visit Jack and see his famous record collection,” said Greenman. “Jack had a refined taste for music and readily said what music he liked and what he did not care for.”
Saul’s family donated other portions of his collection to such nonprofit institutions as the Library of Congress and the Cleveland Orchestra.
“These records were too rare and too valuable to pass up,’’ said Dr. William Miller, dean of Libraries at FAU. “Saul’s collection of 78s is certainly among the largest such collections in the country and perhaps the largest not already owned by a library.”
For more information on the Jack Saul Collection at FAU Libraries, contact Nathan Tinanoff at 561-297-2207 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr. Maxine Schackman at 561-297-3765 or email@example.com. More information about the JSA is located at www.fau.edu/jsa.