Brussels Musical Instruments Museum to display oldest preserved saxophone

Brussels Musical Instruments Museum to display oldest preserved saxophone
© mim, photo Simon Egan

The oldest preserved saxophone by the Belgian inventor of the trademark jazz instrument will be put on display in Brussels after being acquired by a Belgian foundation.

Created by instrument inventor and musician Adolphe Sax, the purchase of the centuries-old saxophone was announced by the King Baudoin Foundation (KBF) on Friday.

Engraved with the markings “Saxophone baryton en mi b breveté, Adolphe Sax à Paris,” the instrument dates from 1846, the same year that Sax patented his signature creation.

Bought from a private owner for €100,000, the baritone sax will be put on display under a long-term loan in Brussels’ Musical Instrument Museum (MIM).

The recent purchase will become the showpiece of the MIM’s saxophone collection, as one of several instruments created by Sax and other members of his family of instrument designers it already houses.

The purchase was celebrated for its “exceptional” historical significance and its internationally recognised heritage value.

The said that the saxophone figured as the oldest in the University of Edinburgh’s List of Adolphe Sax Instruments, widely accepted as the most reliable list of preserved instruments.

Born in Dinant, Sax’s career as a musical inventor kicked off in Brussels, where he crafted clarinets in his father’s workshop. In his early 20s, he moved to Paris, where he developed the saxhorn family of instruments and ultimately perfected his saxophone design.

Originally used by orchestras and marching bands, his trademark invention has become a staple instrument across musical genres, ranging from jazz and classical music to pop, rock and contemporary.

Sax, who had a number of near-death experiences throughout his childhood, died of pneumonia in “absolute poverty” in Paris in 1984.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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