The saxophone was invented by Antoine-Joseph (Adolph) Sax. He was born in Dinant, Belgium on November 6, 1814. His father was a manufacturer who built a factory for woodwind and brass instruments.

Adolph's studies of flute and clarinet at the Brussels Conservatory led him to design refinements to the bass clarinet before creating a new instrument which was a cross between the woodwinds and brass he called  the saxophone. He applied for a patent in 1841, then in 1842, he moved to Paris and began his own instrument making business. The saxophone was given its official 15-year patent in 1846.

With a few exceptions such as Donizetti and Bizet, Adolf Sax did not tempt many classical composers to include his saxophone in their scores. In 1845 he found a way to enlarge his audience by convincing the French Ministry of War to make a competition among it's military bands to test the attributes of the saxophone, and overwhelmed the public with a dramatic display.

Decades of legal struggle among jealous professionals who tried to steal his patents and burn down his workshops gave him much distraction and cause for dissolution. When he was 80, three composers, Emmanuel Chabrier, Jules Massenet, and Camile Saint-Saens, petitioned the French Minister of Fine Arts to come to his aid, but that year Adolph Sax died.

Adolph Sax