||The Original Sound
[Antoine Joseph] (b. Dinant, Belgium, 6 Nov. 1814; d. Paris, 4 Feb. 1894).
Instrument maker. Eldest son of the 11 children of the Belgian instrument
maker Charles Joseph Sax (1791-1865), in whose shop he early learned the
crafts of the trade and whose inventiveness he inherited; also became
an accomplished flutist (studying at the Brussels Conservatory) and clarinetist.
To 1842 he worked in his father's shop, also making improvements of the
clarinet and bass clarinet; 1842, set up shop in Paris, supported by leading
French musicians, including Berlioz (who wrote in his favor), Halévy,
and Kastner, developing and patenting families of new instruments: the
saxhorns (1845), saxotrombas (1845), which survived only briefly, and
saxophones (1846). Seeing an opportunity in the then-poor state of French
military bands, he proposed to the government a complete reorganization,
incorporating his new instruments and eliminating French horns and bassoons.
A celebrated open-air test on 22 April 1845 before 22,000 people was decided
in his favor, and he was granted a virtual monopoly, naturally resulting
in opposition from French makers, who organized to destroy him through,
so Sax's supporters claimed, industrial sabotage and by attacking the
legitimacy of his patents. Litigation continued for many years, undermining
the financial soundness of his firm, which went bankrupt in 1856 and 1873,
and perhaps his own health (in 1853-58 he had lip cancer, from which his
recovery was deemed miraculous). His business was continued by his sons.
Taught the saxophone at the Paris Conservatory, 1857-71; published a Méthode
complète pour saxhorn et saxtromba." More
. . .