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The saxhorn

(Source:-Euphonium-Tuba Saxhorn)

The history of Saxhorn

"Built on the model 266, it retains all the characteristics of it (and accuracy of its attacks, power over the entire range ). It now includes, as in most professional euphonium, four-piston system compensated with a trigger operated by the thumb on the general circuit.
This instrument should finally allow the simultaneous play and easy, the euphonium and saxhorn.
This instrument was officially presented on 1 May 2003 in Amboise, at the concert celebrating the 200 year old instrument maker Antoine Courtois. "


The Saxhorn

It finds its origins:

  • either with the "snorkel" built by Gottfried MORITZ, on data WIEPRECHT, Director General of Military Bands of Prussia in 1835. The instrument WIEPRECHT adopts the form of "Russian bassoon", the "English horn low" and the ophicleide . It was equip with three pumps in Berlin right hand and two barrels in the left hand.
  • either with the tuba W. Karlsruhe Schuster who makes a snorkel to three barrels between 1830 and 1835. Small in size, the tuba Schuster reminded by her figure long and narrow, with an invoice after the evolution of the ophicleide.

Antoine Joseph Sax, "said Adolphe SAX (1814-1894), left one of these two ancestors, or even two, to create his family Saxhorns. SAX led his research in acoustics and showed that the patch was determined not by the nature of the material, but the proportions given in the "column of air. In 1843, he has a patent for his "new system color . The word Saxhorn appears for the first time in 1844 from the lips of musicians, who had just discovered a bugle, which had made a change SAX. This change was actually a slide movable spring run that allowed sounds slipped, and removed the curves and angles too encountered in soft parts, without changing the first sound of the instrument. Also in 1844, during the exhibition of products of French industry in Paris (May 1 to June 30, to the great square of the Champs-Elysees). SAX presents for the first time euphoniums (he always called Bugles) . It was not until 1845 that Adolphe SAX use this name in order to group these instruments into a homogeneous family. Each instrument used the same fingering for the full extent of the family.

The euphoniums adopted a vertical form, more convenient for the musicians of the cavalry who maintained their instrument with the left arm against the body. Therefore, Sax did not cease to develop. In 1851, at the Universal Exhibition in London at Crystal Palace (from May 1 to October 11), SAX presented eleven euphoniums. Some had three pistons, others four or five.

He presented a "four-cylinder Saxhorn trim. But also three euphoniums alto, soprano and contralto four cylinders.

WAGNER , SAX who argued from the start, asked in 1876 to create a new instrument between the horn and the Saxhorn: SAX will give the name of Wagner tuba.

The euphoniums evolve until today when he is seven:

  • the flugelhorn Eb (soprano), who took the form of horizontal trumpets and horns.
  • the bugle Bb (contralto), who also took over the horizontal form.
  • Eb alto
  • Saxhorn baritone (baritone)
  • the saxhorn low if Bb (Saxhorn)
  • Saxhorn in Eb contrabass (Eb bass tuba)
  • the saxhorn bass in Bb (bass tuba)

Only the low Saxhorn kept its original name, and for reasons of simplicity, it is now called saxhorns.

In the archives of the Paris Conservatoire in 1765 found the existence of two classes of serpent (an ancestor of Tuba for the religious and military music from the first empire).

The class of Saxhorn / Euphonium Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris

Jacques-Marie Cornu, and Gaspard VEILLARD were the first teachers and taught in parallel. Jean-Baptiste Mathieu they succeeded in 1765, then the class of snake was closed in 1802.

Curiously ophicleide, other ancestor of the tuba, was not taught at the Conservatory. Instrument popular in churches and in military bands during the second half of the 19th century, it was nevertheless used by Berlioz and SPONTINI in the orchestra , albeit in a role often "caricature" or "evil"! His technical imperfections and acoustic, his voice hoarse, prevented win. It disappeared rather quickly the musical landscape for the benefit of instruments invented in France by Adolphe SAX: the Saxhorns, while in Germany, and WIEPRECHT MORITZ perfected the Tubas.

In 1948, 146 years after the closure of the Snake class, a class of Tuba / Saxhorn is entrusted to Paul Louis Bernard. There are appointments to the winners of the Conservatory Tuba bass in 1948 and Saxhorn in 1951. Around 1953, teaching bass trombone is attached to the class of Tuba / Saxhorn.

The class is formalized in 1956. Paul Louis Bernard taught there until 1981

Andre Leger succeeded him until 1982.

In 1982, Fernand Lelong incorporates the class with the task of separating teaching Tuba / Bass Trombone and Saxhorn. The cimbasso is integrated as optional subject. BRISSE Herve was appointed assistant in 1995. Since 2002, Jean-Luc PETITPREZ takes over as an assistant class-Saxhorn euphonnium.

A succession of Fernand Lelong in 1999, it was decided to create two specific classes: one for the Tubas, the other for Saxhorn / Euphonium. Thus Gerard BUQUET, assisted by Bernard NEURANTER, since 1999 lead the class of Tuba, while Philip FRITSCH, assisted by Hervé BRISSA until June 2002, then replaced in September 2002 by Jean-Luc PETITPREZ, take load class Saxhorn / Euphonium.


Presentation of some tablature for our instruments. This page is under construction and we will rely initially on scanned images (click on images to enlarge), from the Complete Method for Bass Trombone, Tuba and Bass saxhorns bassses to Paul Bernard Alphonse LEDUC editions.

(Click images to enlarge)

Tablature Saxhorn baritone pistons 4 in Bb

Tablature Saxhorn 5 pin in Bb

Tab French tuba in C 6 pistons


Creation date : 07/02/2009 13:56
Last update : 17/03/2009 07:58
Category : - Instruments-Brass
Page read 41075 times


Antoine-Joseph Sax

Anthony-Joseph Sax , better known by the name of Adolphe Sax (November 6, 1814 in Dinant, Belgium - February 4, 1894 in Paris) is a Belgian mailman of musical instrument, best known for inventing the saxophone. His father, Charles Joseph Sax, who was already himself a mailman of musical instrument, has made several changes to hunting horn. Adolphe Sax began making his own instruments very young, with two flutes and a clarinet into a competition at the age of 15 years. He then studied those two instruments at the Royal School of Singing in Brussels. It becomes a master of the clarinet to the point that competition is forbidden in his country.


Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz is a composer, a writer and a French critic, born December 11, 1803 at La Cote Saint Andre, Isere, died March 8, 1869 in Paris.
It is considered one of the greatest representatives of European Romanticism, although it should challenge the term "romantic" that meant nothing to him.
It is defined in fact as a classical composer. His music had the reputation of not respecting the laws of harmony, accusation which does not resist to a deepened reading of its scores.
It reveals, paradoxically, that Berlioz respects the historical foundations of harmony dating from the XVIth century (rules governing opposite and joint movements), but sometimes it frees additional rules appeared later and aesthetically questionable (rules modulation cadential among others).


The ophicleide

The ophicleide is an instrument of the brass family.
They say it was invented in 1817 and patented in 1821 by the French organ builder Jean Hilaire Aste.
He held an important place in the copper romantic operas, replacing the snake.
He had nine key to the origin subsequently have up to twelve.
The first score for this instrument has been written for the opera Gaspare Spontini Olimpico in 1819.
Other famous compositions for the instrument are Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah and the opening of Dream of a Summer Night, and the Symphonie Fantastique of Berlioz. Verdi and Wagner also composed for ophicleide.

Richard Wagner

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (May 22, 1813, Leipzig - 13 February 1883, Venice) was a German composer.

Engineering a rare outsized universality Wagner owes its importance in the history of Western music in his operas, particularly Der Ring des Nibelungen, a festival stage in a prologue and three days of which he himself wrote the poems and the design deliberately bumped habits of the time to go, in his own words, to a 'total art' show full continuous melody and use of leitmotif.