Adolphe Sax

Inventor / Musician
Date Of Birth:
6 November 1814
Date Of Death:
7 February 1894
Place Of Birth:
Dinant, now Belgium
Best Known As:
The Belgian who invented the saxophone

Name at birth: Antoine-Joseph Sax

Antoine-Joseph “Adolphe” Sax was the inventor of the saxophone, earning his patent for it in 1846. A Belgian whose father, Charles Joseph Sax, was a well-known Brussels instrument maker, Adolphe started early, designing and making clarinets and flutes when he was a teenager. At the age of 24, Sax was given a patent for a bass clarinet. He moved to Paris in 1842 and set up shop, having initial success with what he called saxhorns. During his life he designed and built several instruments, but the saxophone is the one that has endured. It’s believed he invented the saxophone around 1840; he received a patent on it in 1846. Like his saxhorns, Sax’s saxophones combined the fingering of a wood instrument with the robust sound of brass. This made them more popular in marching bands than orchestras, and it took another seventy or eighty years for the saxophone to be taken seriously — as a jazz instrument. His invention was something of a catastrophe for Sax himself. He spent the rest of his life being taken to court by competitors, and a series of meritless lawsuits ultimately left him penniless.
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