Adolf Saks

Adolf Saks

Belgian inventor of the saxophone
Date of Birth: 06.11.1814
Country: Belgium

  1. Biography of Adolphe Sax
  2. Emigration to France and Fame
  3. The Invention of the Saxophone
  4. Recognition and Challenges
  5. Legacy and Final Days

Biography of Adolphe Sax

Adolphe Sax, a Belgian inventor of musical instruments, is best known for his invention of the saxophone and saxhorns. Born to Charles Joseph Sax, a renowned self-taught master of wind instruments, Adolphe inherited his father's musical abilities and interest in construction. Charles Joseph Sax's clarinets and bassoons were of such high quality that he was appointed as a court musical master in 1820, earning him numerous prestigious diplomas and medals, as well as over a dozen patents.

Adolf Saks

Emigration to France and Fame

Adolphe Sax, the eldest of eleven children, inherited his father's talent and passion. In 1836, he emigrated from Belgium to France. He gained many followers and, at the same time, faced many adversaries. In 1842, Adolphe Sax opened a wind instrument factory in Paris, where he gained widespread recognition as an inventor and designer. He made significant improvements to nearly all the known wind instruments, creating a whole group of instruments for military wind orchestras called "saxhorns". However, his most famous invention was the saxophone.

Adolf Saks

The Invention of the Saxophone

Adolphe Sax took the clarinet, replaced wood with metal, adapted a more comfortable mouthpiece, and changed the shape, making the instrument wider at the bottom. He also introduced a more progressive oboe-like and flute-like key system. Sax obtained a patent for the saxophone on June 23, 1846. However, five months before receiving the patent, Sax lost a court case where he was accused of fraud and forgery. The court's decision, which stated that "the musical instrument called the saxophone does not exist and cannot exist", still remains.

Recognition and Challenges

Leading French composers enthusiastically praised Sax's new instrument. From 1857, Adolphe Sax taught saxophone classes at the Paris Conservatory and published method books for playing on all the instruments he had invented. However, he soon fell victim to unethical competition. Other instrument makers repeatedly took him to court, accusing him of plagiarism and claiming that he had stolen their inventions. The legal expenses bankrupted Sax's instrument manufacturing firm, and the lengthy legal battles undermined his health.

Legacy and Final Days

Having lived a long life, Adolphe Sax did not live to see the rise of jazz and died in poverty. He was buried at the Montmartre Cemetery. Despite the challenges he faced, Sax's contributions to the world of music endure, and his invention, the saxophone, remains one of the most beloved and widely played instruments to this day.