Saul Conrad 

Biography

In Saul Conrad’s family, music has been a central passion for three generations. In 1940, Saul’s great uncle Claude Frank, a 15-year-old Jew fleeing Germany, played for the Brazilian ambassador in Madrid—a performance that earned him and his mother exit visas. Two decades later, Frank settled with his wife Lilian Kallir on the Upper West Side, where the two established careers as professional pianists, practicing duets on nested pianos.

Two generations later, Sauls father took the three-year-old Saul to the Longy School of Music, where he and several other curly-haired music lovers danced madly to Grieg waltzes and Tchaikovsky themes. Vera Klepikov taught Saul for the next seventeen years—taking him from "The Skater" and "Volga Boatman" to Beethoven sonatas. In 2006, at his high school’s spring concert, Saul performed Mozart's double piano concerto with his great uncle Claude. Long, intense rehearsals with Claude exposed Saul to a level of rhythmic and interpretive rigor that he had not previously encountered.

Saul studied literature at Boston University. Sophomore year, in a class on the history of opera, Saul watched his passionate professor stand shaking and sweating, pirouetting her cane through the Tristan und Isolde Liebestod. Afterward, she exclaimed, "It makes you weak in the knees!" Her fervor made a deep impression on Saul, as did Wagners operas—with their trance-like, dissociative, dark, opiated, removed-from-this-world beauty.

During college Saul met a young novelist, Matthew Coppa, who could recite full episodes of Finnegans Wake by heart. Inspired, Saul became determined to use music to give emotional meaning to abstract language. Through his friendship with Coppa, Saul discovered a side of the mind in which the forgotten reappears; voices of the subconscious speak out and converse in evolving rhythmic patterns; and thoughts of mortality are temporarily relieved. Saul hopes devotion to art can turn pain, isolation and chaos into something new—into something tender that reveals hidden connections and mysterious space.