Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 258 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ANTOINE JOSEPH SAX, known as ADOLPHE (1814-1894), maker of musical instruments, was born at Dinant in Belgium on the 6th of November 1814 and died in Paris in 1894. In 1835 he perfected a bass clarinet superior to any that had preceded it. He came to Paris in 1842 and succeeded in interesting many eminent men, including Berlioz and Halevy. He set up a workshop in the Rue St Georges and studied acoustics, discovering a new principle in the manufacture of wind instruments, viz. that it is the proportions given to a column of air vibrating in a sonorous tube, and these alone, that determine the character of the timbre produced: the material of the walls of the tube is not of the slightest importance so long as it offers enough resistance. Together with his genius for mechanical invention Sax seems to have combined a knowledge of self-advertisement, and his name was often prefixed to successful types of instrument for the invention of which he was notprimarily responsible. In 1845 he patented his saxhorn and a family of cylinder instruments called saxotrombas. On the 22nd of June 1846 he registered the saxophone. He also effected various improvements in piston instruments, of which the most important was the substitution of a single ascending piston for a number of descending ones. See J. P. O. Cornettant, Histoire d'un inventeur (186o) ; C. Pilard, Les Inventions Sax (1869).

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