A New Jersey-based composer of contemporary classical music and some jazz, Eileen Sauer's work spans piano, string, and wind instrumentations.
An alumna of The French School of Music (Facebook page), Eileen was a student of Yvonne Combe who studied at Paris Conservatory when Debussy, Fauré, Saint-Saëns and Ravel were alive and Fauré was Director of the Conservatory. She took 10 years of piano and solfege lessons, and played in Carnegie Recital Hall nine times (many French School alumni did; her sister performed there 10 times). Eight known alumni around her time went to The Juilliard School, attending pre-college or obtaining degrees, and more attended other conservatories.
Armed with only her 10 years of solfege and piano instruction from French School, Sauer spent over 30 years as a self-taught composer during her spare time and joined Juilliard's Evening Division starting in 2016. Her body of work done prior to 2016 is proof of the effectiveness of Combe's solfege and piano practice methodologies.
She has also worked as a software developer, technical trainer, business analyst, engineering manager, and real estate investor, (B.S. in Math - Computing from University of Notre Dame). In 2014, she shifted to focus on music composition and augment her father’s efforts to capture French School's efficient and effective piano practice and solfege methodologies so that future generations of music students can have what was once available to Combe's students.
In 2019, a member of Juilliard pre-college faculty offered to tutor her 11 year old solfege student; hopefully someday when this student feels ready she will step through those doors. Eileen has taken classes in composition, orchestration, and music production in Juilliard's Evening Division.
1950 news article - French School and its founders
8/27/2014 Courier News article - the fate of French School
Saint-Saens second concerto recording - performed by an alumna in the late 1970's. There is an interesting commentary after the initial applause, starting at 23:28.
While professional musicians generally focus on their conservatory work and not their early educational history, The French School of Music made conservatory access possible, by giving students a solid foundation in practical music fundamentals, as well as both technical skill and musicality.
Using one data point for reference, the 1974 Carnegie Recital Hall program pictured above has six French School students on the front cover - Kyoko Utsumi, Liz Du Four, Eileen Chang Sauer, Karen Rispoli, Vincent Di Mura, and Todd Weiss. These were the first prize gold cup winners. Inside the program are eight other students who won Summa cum laude, and of those eight students six were French School - Cindy de Vine, Edwin Tsuzuki, Karen Marcus, Mayo Tsuzuki, Wendy Jaffe, and Kyoko Misawa.