Adolphe Sax was born on November 6, 1814.
The Belgian instrument maker patented the saxophone in the 1840s.
At first, it didn’t get much respect from the musical establishment…
Why the saxophone was not taken seriously:
As a boy in early 19th century Belgium, Adolphe Sax was struck on the head by a brick. The accident-prone lad also swallowed a needle, fell down a flight of stairs, toppled onto a burning stove, and accidentally drank some sulfuric acid. When he grew up, he invented the saxophone.
Only a child that familiar with adversity, contend critics of the saxophone, could have foisted such a contraption on an unsuspecting world. A hybrid of the brass and woodwind families, the instrument is the perennial Cinderella of serious music. Its rich, sometimes dozing sound has never found a permanent place in the symphony orchestra, although after its invention in 1840 such French composers as Berlioz and Massenet experimented with it. In Germany only Richard Strauss, whose Domestic Symphony included a quartet of saxes, regarded it as anything but a yeoman of military bands.
After Sax’s death, the saxophone finally found an established place in the world of music when it came to the United States and made its mark in the world of jazz—and, eventually, rock and roll. Its success in those popular genres, however, actually hurt its reputation in the world of classical music. By the 1920s, it was so closely associated with jazz that many classical purists dismissed it altogether.
Photos: David Bowie / Steve Mackay – Roxy Music / Stan Bronstein – Elephant’s Memory /
Andy Mackay – The Stooges / Michael Brecker (with Yoko Ono)