How was the saxophone invented, why its inventor almost brought to justice

The wind instrument maker Adolphe Sax became famous in history thanks to the invention of the saxophone. Such music is capable of creating a special atmosphere, and having reached the depths of the soul, it can give a person wonderful sublime emotions.

This effect can be achieved thanks to the unique shape of the instrument. It is a parabolic cone that resembles a smoking pipe. The saxophone has managed to glorify such musicians as Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, and many others.

How Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone

Adolphe Sax
Adolphe Sax

It is known that Antoine Joseph (aka Adolphe) Sax was born in Belgium in 1814 in the family of a wind instrument master. King William I even appointed Father Antoine as a master at court, appreciating his quality instruments. Adolphe grew up as a musically developed boy, and from the age of 12, he began to help his father in making instruments. It is not surprising that the young man completely adopted his father’s skills and even surpassed him over time. At the age of 16, he managed to make his own clarinet and flute.

At the same age, Antoine changed his name to Adolphe. In 1830 Sax took part in the Industrial Exhibition in Brussels. There he put on a real show, playing two flutes and a clarinet of his own production. Many were pleasantly overwhelmed. Interestingly, Adolphe Sax constantly came up with new instruments. In particular, he improved clarinets (at first, he introduced 24 valves, and then invented the bass clarinet). Sax presented all his novelties at various exhibitions.

The turning point in his life was 1842 when he managed to invent the “mouthpiece”. This musical instrument looked unusual and had graceful forms. It consisted of a conical metal body and a mouthpiece with a single reed, like a clarinet. It had a ring-shaped valve system, but at the same time, it had a serpentine shape. Those who saw his instrument noted that it looked like a smoking pipe, only of a larger size.

Arriving in Paris with his invention, Sax first came to Hector Berlioz. He was a well-known critic and composer. He had a great influence in the music field, he had influential acquaintances. Although Sax’s instrument looked unusual, its sound enchanted to the Berlioz. He wrote a review article about the “mouthpiece”, naming the instrument in tune with the name of its inventor – the saxophone. Having patented his new invention in 1842, Sax became famous at the same time but at the same time acquired a large number of envious and ill-wishers.

Trials, threats, and charges against Sax

Master Adolf Sax invented not one musical instrument but a whole family of them. He managed to make about 14 types of saxophones, 7 of which have survived to this day and are actively used—for example, Baritone or alto saxophone. The unusual shape of this wind instrument, namely the parabolic cone, is the main source of its magical timbre.

The appearance of the saxophone was quirky and resembled a smoking pipe
The appearance of the saxophone was quirky and resembled a smoking pipe

However, with Adolph Sax and his saxophone, not everything went so smoothly in history. Many people liked the new instrument and made its creator famous. But at the same time, it turned some people against Sax.

The glory of one person often breeds the envy and hostility of others. Those who were less fortunate began to wage a real war against the master. He was accused of deception and hypocrisy, the exclusivity of his development and the right to a patent was challenged. Sax had to prove his case. But he was sued again and again by ill-wishers, forcing him to revoke his patents. Of course, the newspapers and critics did not stand aside, who ridiculed him and called him a liar.

There were so many complaints that he, exhausted by such an onslaught, periodically gave up. In addition, the court costs and proceedings brought him to bankruptcy three times. Emperor Nicholas III intervened in this situation and saved Adolf Sax from another bankruptcy. But the wind instrument master did not give up. He proved his case and continued to produce saxophones with his father, which made his family famous.

How the saxophone managed to stand

A little more than 200 years have passed since the birth of the master who created the magic instrument. Saxon is called “the uncrowned king of wind instruments”. Having been born, the saxophone did not immediately evoke positive emotions in those around it and was accepted by the world. If earlier it was considered strange and ugly, now it is called graceful and magical.

The saxophone can be safely called a work of art that can amaze to the depths of the soul with its sound.

  • While playing the saxophone, the musician produces a wide range of sounds, prompting the listener to fantasize and fond memories.
  • The music produced by the saxophone soothes and harmonizes. It can have a healing effect on the human nervous system and has a beneficial effect on the rehabilitation process.
  • Such music cannot but touch the soul. And it is also able to tune in to a romantic wave, emphasizing a special attitude towards a person.

At the end of the 20th century, the saxophone found another application. A new musical direction, jazz, began to develop in the United States during this period actively. This instrument has become one with jazz performers, complementing and emphasizing their skill. Music critics call 1918 a period of “saxophone mania”.

Famous saxophonists and their compositions that conquered the world

Playing the saxophone requires money and time and knowledge of musical notes, and practical skills. With an instrument and a good teacher, you can achieve great heights and become a famous world-class performer. Musical history keeps the names of the great virtuoso saxophonists, whose performance was simply mesmerizing.

How was the saxophone invented, why its inventor almost brought to justice

According to historical records, French American Charles Edouard Lefebvre was the first to play the saxophone for the American public. This tool was greatly appreciated. Since the end of the 20s of the XX century, the jazz direction has been actively developing. Among the most popular saxophone virtuosos are Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Johnny Hodges, Sonny Rollins, Phil Woods, Stan Getz, and others. Interestingly, Bill Clinton himself (42nd President of the United States) was a virtuoso master of the tenor saxophone. And before the presidency, he even wanted to become a professional musician.

Among the most prominent performers playing the saxophone are Louis Armstrong, Sigurd Rasher, Lev Mikhailov, and others who have also earned world fame. In addition, it is worth noting the performers who used the sound of the saxophone in their compositions. This is the legendary Queen group with the song “One Year Of Love”, the inimitable Whitney Houston, and “I Will Always For You”.

The compositions of Andre Moss, Sade, Burt Bacharach, Fausto Papetti, and many others also win the hearts of listeners. And some saxophonists not only performed on stage but also presented the world with soundtracks for popular films. We are talking about Eric Marienthal and the TV series “Adolphe” and “Santa Barbara”.

How was the saxophone invented, why its inventor almost brought to justice

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