The development of the saxophone 1850-1950: its influence on performance and the classical repertory by Abraham Albertus de Villiers

DeVilliers Development 2014




In the overall academic study of the saxophone and its history there is a considerable lack of integration in how the technological advances of the saxophone enabled the eminent virtuosi of the repertory to accomplish the challenges of saxophone technique and style. This dissertation explores the technological development of the saxophone from when the instrument was first invented in the 1850s to the 1950s.

Concurrent with this investigation, the trajectory of the major repertory of the saxophone is also plotted with the technological developments of each era. This dissertation aims to synthesise and study these two aspects contemporaneously to achieve viable theories to explain the effect that saxophone manufacturers of their particular eras had on the expansion of the classical saxophone repertory.

As saxophone manufacturers expanded and diversified their approach in instrument construction, the players started to gain more facility with aspects like altissimo and intonation to aid them to play the repertoire proficiently. As a result, standards in the course of the first century of the saxophone’s existence gradually become higher. This dissertation is grounded in an assortment of secondary historical sources and the concepts that surround them. This work aims to aid saxophone players to not only understand the development of their instrument and repertory, but also the concepts and utilisation of vintage saxophones of previous eras.



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