November 6, 2011 - Happy Birthday, Adolphe Sax

Did you know that the saxophone was named for its inventor?

Antoine-Joseph (nickname Adolphe) Sax, born on this day in 1814, was a Belgian musician. His father designed musical instruments, and Sax must've learned from good old dad, because he started doing the same at an early age. He entered his own instruments into a competition when he was just 15 years old.

Sax played the flute and the clarinet, and after leaving the Royal School of Singing in Brussels, he fiddled around with new instrument designs. His first important invention was an improvement of the bass clarinet. Another important invention was a valved bugle—actually, he developed a series of valved bugles—that were such an improvement over earlier bugles, his invention spread all over the world and our valves today are essentially unchanged from his. Sax's valved bugles became known as saxhorns.

After saxhorns, Sax invented the saxotromba family. Like the bugles, these were valved brass instruments.

And after that, there was of course the saxophone!

These inventions secured Sax's reputation and a teaching job at the Paris Conservatory.

Check out some saxophone music in NYC and on TV

(Did you recognize Bill Clinton, former U.S. president, in that second video? This was made just a year before he was elected president!)

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