The saxhorn is a valved
brass instrumentwith a tapered bore and deep cup-shaped mouthpiece. The sound has a characteristic mellow quality, and blends well with other brass.
The saxhorn family
The saxhorns form a family of seven instruments (although at one point ten different sizes seem to have existed). Designed for band use, they are pitched alternately in E-flat and B-flat, like the
saxophonegroup. There was a parallel family built in F and C for orchestral use, but this seems to have died out.Fact|date=March 2007
There is much confusion as to nomenclature of the various instruments in different languages. This has been exacerbated by the debate as to whether the saxhorn family was truly new, or rather a development of members of the previously existing
cornetand tubafamilies. The saxhorn is also commonly confused with the flügelhorn, a German instrument which has a different configuration and predates the saxhorn. This confusion probably arises from the common substitution of the flügelhorn for the saxhorn when no saxhorn is available (and vice versa).
Developed during the mid to late 1830s, the saxhorn family was patented in Paris in 1845 by
Adolphe Sax. Sax's claim to have invented the instrument was hotly contested by other brass instrument makers during his lifetime, leading to various lawsuits. Throughout the mid-1850s, he continued to experiment with the instrument's valve pattern.
Saxhorns were popularized by the distinguished
DistinQuintet, who toured Europe during the mid-nineteenth century. This family of musicians, publishers and instrument manufacturers had a significant impact on the growth of the brass bandmovement in Britain during the mid-to late-1800s.
The saxhorn was the most common brass instrument in
American Civil Warbands. The over-the-shoulder variety of the instrument was used, as the backward-pointing bell of the instrument allowed troops marching behind the band to hear the music.
Contemporary works featuring this instrument are
Désiré Dondeyne's "Tubissimo" for bass tuba or saxhorn and piano (1983) and Olivier Messiaen's "Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum" (1984).
* [http://www.saxhorn-euphonium-tuba.com Saxhorn, Euphonium and Tuba site (in French)]
* [http://www.dodworth.org Dodworth Saxhorn Band]
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