Adolphe Sax

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Life-size statue of Adolphe Sax outside his birthplace in Dinant, Belgium.

Antoine-Joseph (known as Adolphe) Sax (November 6, 1814February 4, 1894) was a Belgian musical instrument designer, best known for inventing the saxophone.

Adolphe Sax was born in Dinant in Wallonia, Belgium. His father, Charles-Joseph Sax, was an instrument designer himself, who made several changes to the design of the French horn. Adolphe began to make his own instruments at an early age, entering two of his flutes and a clarinet into a competition at the age of fifteen. He subsequently studied those two instruments at the Royal School of Singing in Brussels.

Having left the school, Sax began to experiment with new instrument designs, while his father continued to produce conventional instruments to bring money into the household. Adolphe's first important invention was an improvement of the bass clarinet design which he patented at the age of 20.

In 1841, Sax relocated permanently to Paris and began work on a new set of instruments which were exhibited there in 1844. They were keyed bugles, and although he had not invented the instrument itself, his examples were so superior to those of his rivals that they became known as saxhorns. They are today widely used in military bands and sometimes in orchestras. The saxhorn laid the groundwork for the modern euphonium. He also developed the saxtromba in 1845, though this survived only briefly.

The 1840s also saw Sax inventing the instrument for which he is now best known, the saxophone. The composer Hector Berlioz wrote approvingly of the new instrument in 1842, but the instrument was not patented until 1846, after he had designed and exhibited a full range of saxophones (from soprano to bass). These instruments made his reputation, and secured him a job teaching at the Paris Conservatoire from 1867.

Sax continued to make instruments later in life, as well as presiding over a new saxophone class at the Paris Conservatoire. However, rival instrument-makers attacked the legitimacy of his patents and mounted a lengthy campaign of litigation against Sax and his company, driving him into bankruptcy twice (in 1856 and 1873). The prolonged legal struggle may also have undermined his own health; he suffered from lip cancer between 1853 and 1858 but made a full recovery.

He died in 1894 in Paris and was interred in the Cimetire deАдолф Сакс de:Adolphe Sax fr:Adolphe Sax nl:Adolphe Sax ja:アドルフ・サックス no:Adolphe Sax pl:Adolphe Sax sv:Adolphe Sax


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