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date: 21 October 2019


  • Philip Bate
  • , revised by Trevor Herbert
  •  and Arnold Myers


A family of valved brass instruments developed by Adolphe Sax at his workshops in Paris in the 1840s and 50s. The name ‘saxhorn’ became a generic description for the instruments of this family. Sax adopted this term, but there is evidence that he was not the first to use the word as a broad descriptor. Patents for valve brass instruments having names with the ‘sax’ prefix were registered by him in Paris in 1845, but the validity of some of the patents, at least in so far as they protected a genuine new invention, has been questioned at different times. The patents were fiercely challenged by some long-established French instrument makers during Sax’s lifetime, but these challenges could have been stimulated by protective instincts and by jealousy of the rapid success of a self-confident, emigrant Belgian. Intended primarily for army use, the saxhorn revolutionized military, and in particular brass, bands....

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Galpin Society Journal
A. Lavignac and L. de La Laurencie, eds.: Encyclopédie de la musique et dictionnaire du Conservatoire