Today before 201 years: it is the 6. November 1814, as Adolphe Sax in Dinant (Belgium) is born. His invention of the saxophone makes him well known, but the great triumph of his instrument he no longer experienced.
[ This article is also available in German: 201. Geburtstag von Adolphe Sax ]
Adolphe Sax: Poor but innovative
Adolphe Sax was one of eleven children. The family moved to Brussels 1835. His Father Charles Joseph Sax, a cabinetmaker, opened an instrument-building workshop. Adolphe Sax visited the Brussels conservatory and studied flute, clarinet, singing and harmony.
His first self-employed work as instrument maker, in the workshop of his father, was the improvement of clarinet and bass clarinet (Patent 1838).
Emigrated – with 30 francs and a musical instrument
In 1842, the belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax, emigrated from Brussels to Paris. The 28-year-old has only 30 franc in the bag and in his luggage his latest invention: a music instrument, as the world has never seen. He calls it the saxophone. The young Belgian hopes his invention will be popular in Paris.
Adolphe Sax became famous overnight
And indeed: the composer Hector Berlioz is ready to receive him. When Adolphe Sax opens the newspaper next morning he is already a well-known man. Berlioz has a true hymn to his saxophone written.
The main advantage of the saxophone is the varied beauty of its various ways of expression. Berlioz says: “a deep around calm, then dreamy and melancholic, sometimes delicate, as the touch of an echo.”
Why is the saxophone bent?
His full sound gets the saxophone only through the long, bent tube. By the way, it’s only bent because of it is otherwise almost the length of alphorns had and would be very unwieldy. Varying the sound through tone holes, like a flute.
Delivery of military bands
In Paris, the young inventor Adolphe Sax takes friends and sponsors, with their money he built his first small workshop. He has also success at the royal court. King Louis-Philippe gives Adolphe Sax a monopoly for the supply of military bands, because the new instrument is voice stable, weather-resistant and – if it must be – loud.
Patent has been the downfall of Adolphe Sax
In June 1846 Adolphe Sax gets a patent. Only he was allowed to produce saxophones. Some people were envious. They tried to ruin the instrument maker. They poach him the best employees, spread the rumor that he was broke and perform a patent process after the other against him. Finally, his company actually going bankrupt. Also, because the saxophone could not prevail in classical music.. On February 7, 1894 Adolphe Sax died at the age of 79 years in Paris, penniless and forgotten.
Jazz: The breakthrough of the saxophone
Only thirty years after his death the career oft he the saxophone begins, far away, in the USA. Jazz saxophonist like Charlie Parker made the saxophone to what it is today: one of the most popular solo instruments with the coolest image.
The original Adolphe-Sax-Saxophone
Nick Rail & Jim Scimonetti describe the original instrument, the saxophone by Adolphe Sax from the year 1867.