The saxophone was the first instrument I ever played. I remember my teacher: an overweight, slightly Buddha-shaped man with a penchant for falling asleep with half-eaten doughnuts in his hand. I don’t know why I took up saxophone (an alto, incidentally), but it didn’t last terribly long. My parents supported me by not complaining of the racket I made; my teacher gave as much support as one can give to an easily distracted eight-year-old; but learning jazz standards didn’t hold the appeal of, say, setting things on fire, or making sling-shots out of wood and rubber bands. In the end, I lost interest, a fact I’ve regretted ever since.
The saxophone came into this world through the efforts of a Belgian man living in Paris in the 1840s by the name of Adolphe Sax. The son of instrument maker Charles-Joseph Sax, Adolphe studied flute and clarinet in Brussels, where his father sold instruments, including horns with modifications of his own design. Adolphe Sax followed his father’s lead, designing and modifying instruments, and at the age of 20 he patented a modification to the bass clarinet.