HISTORY OF THE SAXOPHONE

The saxophone was created by Adolphe Sax 
  • 1841 - Adolphe Sax showed his saxophone creation to the French composer, Hector Berlioz, who was impressed by the instrument and published an article in a Paris magazine describing the saxophone
  • 1844 - Adolphe Sax reveals his newly created instrument to the public with a choral piece that featured the saxophone composed by Berlioz. 
  • 1845 - During this time, French military bands used oboes, bassoons, and French horns, but Adolphe replaced these with saxhorns (a family of valved brass instruments also developed by Adolphe Sax) 
  • 1846 - Adolphe Sax receives a patent for his saxophone
  • 1847 - A saxophone school was created at a military band school in Paris. 
  • 1885 - After undergoing several changes such as extending the instrument's range and adding new fingerings, the first saxophone was built in the United States and was soon used in classical orchestra and band settings.
  • 1894 - Adolphe Sax passed away and his son, Adolphe Edouard, took over the business. The saxophone continued to develop and evolve into the instrument it is known as today. 
  • 1918 - the period of jazz began! The saxophone played an extremely vital role in jazz music.

Hector Berlioz

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Adolphe Sax

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Saxhorn

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Present day saxophone

Adolphe Sax had a difficult life - he had many near death experiences - the saxophone almost wasn't invented! 
  • Before he could walk, Sax fell from three floors and hit his head on a stone.
  • At just three years old he drank a bowl of acidic water and later swallowed a pin.
  • He just barely escaped being poisoned by varnished furniture left to dry in his bedroom. 
  • He was severely burned twice - once from a gunpowder explosion and another from falling onto a cast iron skillet.
  • He was hit on the head by a cobble stone and fell into the river - just barely surviving!
Adolphe Sax created the saxophone, but he invented many other things as well!  
  • Sax created four different families of instruments that include: saxhorns, saxtrombones, saxtubas and saxophones.
  • He reformed musical methods, notation, and compositions while working as a teacher for military musicians at the Paris Conservatory.
  • He made improvements on almost all brass and woodwind instruments.
  • He created an incredible study on concert hall acoustics.
  • Sax made a pamphlet on the influence of wind instruments on the lungs.