Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/244

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��quickly attracted notice by his clarinets and bas- soons, which gained him a medal at the Industrial Exhibition of 1820, and the title of musical- instrument maker to the court of the Nether- lands, who also encouraged him by advancing him capital. In 1822 he began to make all kinds of wind-instruments, brass and wood, and in 1824 invented an 'omnitonic horn' which he continued to perfect till 1 846. This instrument can be adjusted to any key by means of a piston sliding backwards or forwards on a gra- duated scale of about half an inch long, which sets the body of the instrument in communication with tubes of different lengths corresponding to all the major keys. On a separate elbow is a moveable register which the player fixes opposite the number of the key he wishes to use, and the tube of that key being at once brought into position, the instrument is played exactly like an ordinary horn. Sax also invented brass instruments producing every note in the scale, without crooks, pistons, or cylinders. He took out patents for a keyed harp, and a piano and a guitar on a new system, but his efforts were mainly directed to perfecting the clarinet, especi- ally the bass clarinet, and discovering new methods of boring brass and wood wind-instruments with a view to make them more exactly in tune. His exertions were crowned with success, and he obtained gratifying distinctions at the Brussels Industrial Exhibition of 1835.

Charles Sax was the father of 1 1 children, of whom two sons were distinguished in the same line. The eldest of these,

ANTOINE JOSEPH, known as ADOLPHE SAX, born at Dinant Nov. 6, 1814, was brought up in his father's workshop, and as a child was remark- able for manual skill, and love of music. He entered the Brussels Conservatoire and studied the flute and clarinet, the latter with Bender, who considered him one of his best pupils. Like his father his efforts were directed mainly to the improvement of that instrument, especially the bass clarinet, and he even designed a double-bass clarinet in Bb. In the course of his endeavours to improve the tune of his favourite instrument he invented an entire family of brass instruments with a new quality of tone, which he called Sax- ophones. The hope of making both fame and money led him to Paris; he arrived in 1842, and established himself in the Rue St. Georges, in small premises which he was afterwards forced to enlarge. He had no capital beyond his brains and fingers, which he used both as a man- ufacturer and an artist ; but he had the active support of Berlioz, HaleVy, and G. Kastner, and this soon procured him money, tools and workmen. He exhibited in the French Exhibition of 1844, and obtained a silver medal for his brass and wood wind-instruments, a great stimulus to a man who looked down upon all his rivals, and aimed not only at eclipsing them, but at securing the mono- poly of furnishing musical instruments to the French army. In 1845 he took out a patent for the Saxhorn, a new kind of bugle, and for a family of cylinder instruments called Saxo-

��SAX.

trombas, intermediate between the Saxhorn and the cylinder trumpet. On June 22, 1846, he re- gistered the Saxophone, which has remained his most important discovery. A man of such inven- tive power naturally excited much jealousy and ill-feeling among those whose business suffered from his discoveries, but his tact and wisdom made numerous and powerful friends, among others General de Kumigny, Aide-de-camp to Louis Philippe, and a host of newspaper writers who were perpetually trumpeting his praises. He lost no opportunity of vaunting the supe- riority of his instruments over those in use in the French military bands, at a special com- petition held between the two ; and the supe- riority, whether deserved or not, soon resulted in a monopoly, the first effect of which was to banish from the military bands all horns, oboes, and bassoons. Hence, outside the Conservatoire, there is no longer a supply of skilled performers on those classical and indispensable instruments, on which the various French orchestras may draw.

The Paris Industrial Exhibition of 1849, at which Sax obtained a gold medal, brought his three families of instruments still more into notice ; and he received the Council Medal at the Great Exhibition of 1851. In spite of these merited honours, he became bankrupt in 1852. He soon, however, made an arrangement with his creditors, and on re-commmencing business entered for the Paris Exhibition of 1855, an d gained another gold medal. When the pitch was reformed in 1859 every orchestra and military band in France had to procure new wind-instruments an enormous advantage, by which any one else in Sax's place would have made a fortune; but with all his ability and shrewdness he was not a man of business, and his affairs became more and more hopelessly involved. There was full scope for his inventive faculties under the Second Empire, and he introduced various improvements into the dif- ferent piston instruments, only one of which need be specified, viz. the substitution of a single ascending piston for the group of descending ones. This principle he adapted to both conical and cylindrical instruments. He also invented instru- ments with seven bells and six separate pistons ; instruments with rotatory bells for altering the direction of the sound, and a host of smaller im- provements and experiments, all detailed in Fe"tis's ' Rapports de 1'Exposition ' and ' Biographic Uni- verselle.'

At the London International Exhibition of 1862, Sax exhibited cornets, saxhorns, and saxo- trombas, with 3 pistons, and with 2, 3, 4, and 5 keys; and at Paris in 1867 he took the Grand Prix for specimens of all the instruments invented or improved by him. Since then his projects have been repeatedly before the public, but he has lost his powerful patrons and declined in prosperity year after year. He has been obliged to give up his vast establishment in the Rue St. Georges (No. 50) and to sell (Dec. 1877) his collection of musical instruments. The printed catalogue contains 467 items, and though not absolutely correct is interesting, especially for the view it

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