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Wind instruments - Woodwinds


[Ft. flute; Ger. Flote; It.flauto; Sp.flauta). Any instrument formed by a hollow chamber of any shape containing a body of air that is set in motion by an airstream striking against the edge of an opening in the chamber.


I. Classification. Flutes are classified by the way in which the airstream is shaped and directed over the opening. A player may blow into a slot or duct that directs the air over an internal edge, as on whistles, ocarinas, and recorders; a player’s lips may blow over an ’embouchure hole or notch, as on transverse flutes and shakuhachis; or the air may be wind-driven, as with the bulu parinda, a large (up to 10 m long) aeolian pipe hung in treetops in Southeast Asia. A flute can be farther classified by the shape of its air cavity: it may be globular as in the ocarina, a horizontally held tube like the modem orchestral flute, or a vertically held one like the pennywhistle. Tubular flutes with an embouchure rather than a duct are classified as end-blown or transverse. In Europe and the Western world, transverse flutes have been the dominant type for the past three centuries.

II. The modern orchestral flute. This transverse flute has developed from a design introduced in 1847 by Theobald Boehm (1794-1881) and modified by French, English, and American makers since that time. Its tube is cylindrical, usually of metal (silver or alloy, or sometimes gold or platinum), and its mechanism is based on the Boehm system. It has a range of b or c' to c"". The modem flute comes in several subsidiary sizes, including the piccolo, an octave higher (its parts written an octave lower than they sound); the alto flute [Fr. flute alto; Ger. Altflote; It. flautone; Sp. flauta baja], a transposing instrument in G, a fourth below the normal flute (range g to d'"'); the bass flute in C (c to g"); and the so-called contrabass, a large-bore C bass flute with an extended lower range down to G. The flute d'amour [Ger. Liebesflote] of the 18th and 19th centuries was pitched in A, a third lower than the normal flute. Renaissance flute consorts generally comprised a bass in G, an alto/tenor in D, and sometimes a discant in A. Military bands before World War II sometimes used flutes in D and E, while flute bands of the 19th and 20th centuries employed still other sizes, including the B tenor flute and the G treble.

1. Cross section of a duct flute’s sounding mechanism (recorder).  2. Pipe and tabor with drum stick.  3. Fife.  4. Panpipes.  5. Ocarina.  6. Flageolet (French).  7. Piccolo.  8. Baroque flute.  9. Flute (Boehm).  10. Alto recorder.  11. Bass recorder.


III. History. Transverse flutes appear to have reached Europe via Byzantine culture in the 11th century. By ca. 1300 the flute had found a role as a military instrument alongside trumpets, drums, bagpipes, and bells, as well as occasional use in the instrumen-tarium of minstrels in Germany, Spain, and France.

The flute’s employment by Swiss infantry in highly effective new military techniques ca. 1480 spread the instrument all over Europe as German, French, Spanish, Swedish, and English soldiers copied the Swiss maneuvers. The first written instructions for playing the instrument, by Virdung (1511), emphasized this military character, but by 1529 Agricola indicated that sets of flutes in three different sizes (bass, alto/tenor, and discant) were being used to play four-part consort music, in the same way as instruments of most other families. Flute consorts became popular in Lyons and Paris as well as at the courts of England, Spain, Hungary, and Baden-Wurttemberg, where inventories record their presence in large numbers in the second half of the 16th century. By 1600 transverse flutes more commonly appeared alongside other wind, string, and plucked instruments as well as voices in dramatic and ecclesiastical music composed in Venice, Munich, Leipzig, Florence, and other centers.

French theatrical music of the late 17th century included scores for flutes in a lower part of their range than hitherto, often in scenes of love. These parts signal the presence of a new type of flute, the same size as the Renaissance alto/tenor but with a conical bore, a three-section construction, and a key for E to provide a stronger low range, a more even tone, and a better facility for playing in various tonalities. The new Baroque flute was first depicted on a title page in 1690 and first appeared outside France in a London theater piece of 1701. The first published solo music for flute came in De Labarre’s Pieces (1703), while the earliest instructions for playing it came in Hotteterre’s Principes (1707), in which the flute was called “one of the most . . . fashionable instruments,” indicating its popularity with cultured and wealthy amateurs.

This popularity grew with northwestern Europe’s prosperity in the early 18th century. Production of flutes and printed music for the instrument increased dramatically: sonatas and, later, concertos formed its principal repertoire. A growing number of traveling performers appeared at concerts, while the amateur market expanded as flute playing became one of the marks of a cultivated gentleman.

In the mid-18th century, English makers including Schuchart (ca. 1756) and Cahusac (ca. 1760) began to build flutes with added keys to play B, G#, and F, notes hitherto produced effectively enough by fingerings like those of the recorder and oboe. The new keys permitted a harder and more brilliant sound in the low register. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries the number of keys grew as ideals of tone responded to changing tastes, larger concert halls, and new performance practices. During this period Charles Nicholson, Jean-Louis Tulou, Friedrich Ludwig Diilon, and other performers in England, France, and Germany achieved widespread fame as solo performers on keyed flutes.

In 1831 the Bavarian flutist and industrialist Theobald Boehm constructed a flute that used mechanical means to locate tone holes in positions the unaided fingers could not reach. A subsequent Boehm flute of 1832 achieved some success in Paris, London, and New York around 1840, and another new model of 1847, which replaced the conical bore with a cylindrical one, immediately went into production in workshops in Paris and London. French makers soon modified the Boehm flute to make it easier to produce and
to market, and by the end of the 19th century French-or English-made Boehm flutes had displaced other models in most of the prominent orchestras of the world. Some German flutists held to the traditional flute with its characteristic sound, however, and Maximilian Schwedler (1853-1940) developed models that increased the old flute’s potential to meet the demands of new music. In this period solo flute playing took second place in importance to the instrument’s role in the orchestra.


By the end of World War I William S. Haynes (1864-1939) and other American makers dominated the worldwide market for flutes, building copies of French designs by Louis Lot (1807-96), supplier to the influential Paris Conservatoire. Radio and recording increased the hegemony of French and Franco-American instruments and playing styles, which now routinely employed a continuous vibrato, formerly held in generally low esteem. French soloists, including Marcel Moyse, Louis Fleury, and Rene le Roy, brought the flute renewed and widespread attention as a solo instrument, influencing prominent players in England and Germany to adopt French instruments and modify their playing styles.

In about 1970 the London flute maker Albert Cooper developed new ways to adapt French flute designs (built at A = 435) to the standard orchestral pitch of A = 440, as well as new styles of cutting the mouth hole to produce a more powerful, though less tonally flexible sound. The Cooper scale and embouchure cuts were quickly adopted by most of the world’s leading flute manufacturers, now based in Japan and Korea as well as the U.S., though some manufacturers continued to produce the so-called traditional 19th-century French designs, still highly regarded by many players.

Mozart: Flute concerto No.1 in G major, K.313 

Statue of Krishna playing a flute

[It., small].

(1) [Fr. petite flute, flute piccolo; Ger. Pikkoloflote, kleine Flote, Pickelflote, Oktavflote; It. ottavino, flauto piccolo; Sp. flautln] A small flute pitched an octave higher than the ordinary flute. Its normal range is from d" to d"'", written one octave lower. It normally lacks a foot joint and may be made of wood or metal. It is sometimes pitched in keys other than C, for bands often in D. See ill. under Flute.

(2) The smallest or highest-pitched member of a family of instruments, e.g., violino piccolo, piccolo clarinet, piccolo cornet, piccolo trumpet.


(abbreviation of It. flauto piccolo, “little flute”) Auxiliary member of the flute family with a range an octave above that of the standard flute. It uses the same key system and fingering as the flute, but is slighdy under half its length. The piccolo first came into use in France in the 18th century; initially, its role was to provide colorful special effects in the opera house. It entered the symphony orchestra via Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 5, 6, and 9.


The piccolo adds brightness to the uppermost strands of an orchestral texture when employed as part of the tutti. In a solo capacity it can penetrate the texture and sound sparklingly clear or pastoral and sweet, depending on how it is used; it can have a magical effect when played softly. Orchestral players want an instrument that sounds brilliant and speaks clearly, but many prefer wooden piccolos to the metal variety familiar from use in bands—their less piercing, rounder tone is more appealing.

Notable solo passages for the piccolo can be found in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale; Weber’s Der Freischutz (adorning Caspar’s salacious drinking song “Hier im ird’schen Jammerthal”); Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony (third movement; Dvorak’s Sixth Symphony (the trio section of the scherzo); the prologue to Holst’s opera The Perfect Fool; and, most famous of all, Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, in which the part is traditionally played by all the members of the flute section, standing.


[Fr. hautbois; Ger. Oboe; It., Sp. oboe]. Treble double-reed instrument with conical bore used in European art music.

Today the most common form is the Conservatoire oboe, made of African blackwood and equipped with a key system. It is primarily used to play orchestral literature. There are various sizes besides the standard C-oboe (range bb to a'"), including the hautbois d’amour in A with a bulb bell (used mostly for performing Bach arias) and various oboes in F (known as the tenor hautboy and oboe da caccia in the Baroque period and English hom or cor anglais since the 19th century). There are other less-common sizes, both smaller and larger. Another specialized type is the Viennese oboe, which derives from a German tradition that can be traced back to the late 18th century.

The oboe was developed in France during the middle of the 17th century from the shawm, most of whose tasks it took over, such as playing in bands, playing during night watches in cities, and accompanying armies. The new instrument was also used in orchestras, solo obbligatos in operas, solo concertos, church music, and chamber music.

The golden age of the oboe was the period when it appeared in virtually every kind of music, and when its repertoire was most abundant, from roughly 1690 to 1790. The instrument of the time, which has recently begun to be called by its Baroque name, hautboy (pronounced oh-boy) to distinguish it from the keyed Conservatoire oboe, was usually made of boxwood and had two keys (one of which was sometimes doubled). Like the recorder, it used cross-fingerings and half-holing to produce flats and sharps; there was no octave key.

Prior to the mid-19th century the internal and external design of the instrument was in a constant state of change, and it is possible to distinguish some ten distinct designs between about 1670 and 1810. The addition, in the early 19th century, of various keys and key systems with interactive mechanisms changed the basic playing technique but did not arrest the continued evolution in oboe design. Since the appearance of the last Triebert models in 1862 (Barret) and 1872 (Systeme 6, continued by Loree and adopted at the Paris Conservatory in 1881), however, changes to the oboe’s bore, tone holes, key system, and general dimensions have been minimal.

The 19th and early 20th centuries saw the oboe’s role in art music gradually reduced; while composers used the oboe as an important member of symphony and opera orchestras, little solo or chamber music appeared for it, although the oboe is featured in many contemporary movie sound tracks, often associated with evocations of love and romance. Since the 1960s and 1970s the concept of the instrument has been expanded by its participation in experimental forms like the avant garde and the early music movement.

The members of the oboe family from top: heckelphone, bass oboe, cor anglais, oboe d'amore, regular oboe, and piccolo oboe

The avant-garde called for effects from the traditional Conservatoire oboe that were never imagined when it was first developed. Sounds that were once considered extraneous, like key noise and breathing, became sonic resources, and to these were added so-called extended techniques, such as multiphonics (or chords), microtones and pitch sliding, double- and triple-tonguing, alternative fingerings, an extended upper range, and combinations with electronic media.

It was also in the 1960s that the early music movement rediscovered the hautboy. The movement’s most obvious attribute is its use of historical versions of instruments. But because a so-called early instrument can be played in a later style, and a modem symphonic instrument can be played in an early style, it is not the instruments themselves that are the aesthetic issue but rather the performance style that players bring to the instruments.

Players now have the option to experiment with performing styles beyond the one generally taught on the Conservatoire oboe. These innovative forms and uses of the instrument not only provide new possibilities but also offer a fresh perspective on the basic nature of the Western oboe and its possible uses.

Beethoven - Oboe trio

Oboe d’amore

(It., “oboe of love”) Mezzo-soprano oboe pitched in A (i.e., midway between the standard oboe and the English horn), with a slightly bulbous bell. (The term d’amore, when used in conjunction with the name of an instrument, denotes a softer or lower-sounding member of that instrument’s family.) Developed in southern Germany during the second decade of the 18th century, it was prized for its warm, delicately veiled tone color.

Bach was particularly fond of the instrument’s sound: He included parts for two oboes d’amore in many of his Leipzig cantatas, and in the Mass in B Minor he fashioned a beautiful obbligato solo for oboe d’amore to accompany the alto aria “Qui sedes.” The revival of interest in Bach’s music in the late 19th century led to the manufacture of an updated variety of oboe d’amore with keywork similar to that of the modern oboe. The first orchestral work to make use of the new instrument was Richard Strauss’s Symphonia domestica (1903), where, fittingly, it is entrusted with the theme representing “the Child.” Solos for oboe d’amore also appear in Debussy’s Gigues (1913) and Ravel’s Bolero (1928).



[Fr. clarinette; Ger. Klarinette; It. clarinetto]. A family of single-reed woodwind instruments with a predominantly cylindrical bore. The modem instrument is generally made of grenadilla (African blackwood), less often of materials such as ebonite, plastic, and metal. 


The complete family usually comprises the following instruments: high Ab, E, B, A, basset hom in F, alto clarinet in Eb, bass clarinet in Bb, contra alto clarinet in Eh, and contra bass clarinet in Bb. All clarinets have approximately the same written range, e to c"" in the treble staff; the lower-pitched instruments seldom use the higher octaves. Clarinets are notated as transposing instruments. Some scores notate the bass instruments in the bass clef, one octave below the written range shown. Of the instruments listed, the clarinet in Bb is the most common. Orchestral and chamber music parts often call for the clarinet in A. The player is expected either to double on the A clarinet or to transpose the part. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, clarinet parts were notated in tenor (for Bb clarinet), soprano (for A clarinet), and alto (for D clarinet) clefs, especially in opera. Use of the treble clef was standardized for all transposing clarinets after 1850. Around 1800 clarinetists transposed parts having up to three flats and two sharps but in operas, clarinets in C and B# were required. Players were expected to have C and Bb instruments with additional finger hole sections (corps de rechange) to change to B and A clarinets. By about 1840, orchestral clarinetists preferred to play separate instruments in C, Bb, and A. Higher-pitched clarinets in Eb and F were played in bands.

A distinctive feature of the clarinet is that it acts as a stopped-pipe resonator—that is, it sounds an octave lower than one would expect. Thus, the flute and the Bb clarinet are roughly the same length, but the clarinet’s lowest sounding note is d, whereas the flute’s is c'. Because a stopped pipe produces primarily the odd partials, the clarinetist must cope with the interval of a twelfth between its first two registers rather than the octave of most other woodwinds. This presents formidable difficulties for the design of a fingering system. The nine available fingers must govern 19 semitones rather than, for instance, the 11 of the flute.

The clarinet is closely related to the European chalumeau. The Nuremberg woodwind maker Johann Christoph Denner (1655-1707) is credited with improvements to the chalumeau and the invention of the clarinet, but the exact nature of his work is unknown. Denner’s son Jacob Denner (1681-1735) is documented as the first to make clarinets in 1710 on a commission from the duke of Gronsfeld in Nuremberg. The Baroque clarinet has two or three keys and was used by Vivaldi, Telemann, Rathgeber, Handel, Mol-ter, and Rameau in orchestral and chamber music and opera. By the 1770s, the classical clarinet with four to six keys (E/B, F#/C#, A/E, A, A/B trill, B speaker) had become standard. During the 18 th century, the instrument was built in four sections: mouthpiece with a long socket, left-hand section, right-hand section, and stock-bell. Toward the end of the century, the mouthpiece was made with a separate barrel and the stock section was separated from the bell. A sixth key (A/B trill) was added about 1775 and a seventh key (C#/G#) by about 1790. Additional keys continued to be added to facilitate trills and the slurring of difficult intervals. In 1812, Ivan Muller devised a 13-key clarinet that was meant to be omnitonic, i.e., playable in all keys.

A commission of the Conservatoire im-periale de musique et de declamation of Paris did not officially accept Muller’s clarinet, fearing the loss of distinctive tone colors. After some changes to the original design and the addition of rollers devised by Cesar Janssen in 1821, it emerged as the 13-key “simple-system” clarinet. In 1843, Louis-Auguste Buffet, in consultation with the clarinetist Hyacinthe Klose (1808-80), applied Theobald Boehm’s ideas to the clarinet. The resulting clarinette a anneaux mobiles is known today as the Boehm system clarinet and is used far outside France. Adolphe Sax and other makers continued to experiment with key work. Today two principal key systems survive: the Boehm system, used throughout the French- and English-speaking worlds, and the Oehler system, used in German- and Russian-speaking countries. Clarinets of various types and pitch are also widely used in the folk music of Eastern Europe, India, and especially Turkey.

Basset horn

[Fr. cor de basset; Ger. Bassetthorn; It. Como di bassetto, clarinetto d’amore]. A form of clarinet pitched in F, a fourth lower than the normal Bb clarinet. Its key mechanism always includes basset keys operated by the right thumb and/or left little finger that extend the written range down to c. The instrument has a bore that is narrow in proportion to its length, about the same diameter as a normal Bb clarinet. Modem instruments are made in the shape of a bass clarinet with a Boehm or Oehler system of keys, and sometimes include the larger bore of an alto clarinet.


Anton and Michael Mayrhofer of Passau probably invented the basset hom. This attribution is based primarily on three surviving basset horns made about 1770 that include a stamp reading “ANT et mich mayrhofer/inven & elabor/pasavu.” The curved or sickle-shaped oboe da caccia served as a model for the earliest instruments, which had four or five keys, a curved wooden tube covered with leather, and a bore consisting of three parallel internal bore channels housed in a wooden box [Ger. Kasten or buck] connected to a flared metal bell. Because of the arrangement of keys, these basset horns are equivalent in technical capability to the baroque three-key clarinet. These earliest basset horns are anonymous instruments made in Austria about 1760. Later basset horns with six, seven, and eight keys correspond to classical clarinets with four, five, and six keys. During the 1780s, the Viennese maker Theodor Lotz created the angled basset horn with two straight sections connected by a short elbow joint, a D key, and keys mounted on metal saddles. The earliest instruments were pitched in G and F with circular-shaped brass bells; later instruments have ovalshaped brass bells and were sometimes made in E, Eb, and D. John Mahon and Johann Backofen included instructions concerning the basset horn in their clarinet tutors (ca. 1803). During the early 19th century, makers constructed basset horns without boxes, straight finger hole sections, and fully chromatic basset keys.

The basset horn repertory is quite large. Composers for the instrument in chamber music and opera include J. C. Bach (who wrote for instruments in D that he called clarinetto d’amore), Mozart, Danzi, Mendelssohn, Cherubini, Donizetti, Massenet, and Richard Strauss. Concertos were written by Carl Stamitz (in G), Druschetsky, and Rolla.

Mozart - Clarinet Concerto in A major, K 622



[Fr. basson; Ger. Fagott; It. fagotto; Sp. fagot],
A conical-bore, double-reed woodwind instrument that has its bore folded in the center in order to reduce its exterior dimensions. To further aid in making the finger holes reachable, several of them are drilled at an extreme angle into the bore. The bassoon has been made in a variety of sizes, but the only instruments that have survived in current use are the normal bassoon (range B, to e", written at pitch) and the contrabassoon (range A2 or B to g, usually written an octave higher). From the Baroque period to the present, bassoons have been built in four sections, usually called the wing (or tenor), the boot (or butt), the long (or bass), and the bell. The reed is connected to the wing by an S-shaped tube called a bocal. Modem bassoons may be divided into two types, the French and the German, which differ in design and in fingering. The German instrument is usually made of maple, the French instrument of rosewood. The German instrument dominates most of Europe and the U.S., while the French instrument remains solidly entrenched in France, with a few adherents in French Canada as well. 

The bassoon is descended from the various folded-bore instruments of the Renaissance, such as the curtal and the sordone. It is impossible to trace the development of the true bassoon to a specific place of origin. Upon its introduction into England in the late 17th century, however, it was referred to as the “French basson.” The Baroque version of the instrument had four (earlier, three) keys: for B, D, F, and G. By the end of the 18th century, the instrument had acquired additional keys for E and F#. More keys were subsequently added to improve certain trills and for the purpose of reaching more easily the notes at the extreme upper end of the range.

Carl Almenrader redesigned the instrument in the 1820s. He entered into partnership with Johann Adam Heckel in 1831, and by 1843, the year of Almen-rader’s death, the German form of the bassoon, as made by Heckel, was substantially established. Almenrader’s principal contributions were perhaps no more logical than the features found on previous instruments; but their aim, at least, was the easier execution of trills and easier slurring of difficult intervals, especially in remote keys. The Heckel firm has continued to make changes and improvements in the instrument.

The French bassoon has proceeded along slightly different lines and retains more of the earlier cross fingerings than the German instrument. Its principal developers were Eugene Jancourt (1815-1901; performer, composer, and teacher at the Paris Conservatoire) and the firms of Guillaume and his son Frederic Triebert and Jean Nicolas Savery (known as Savery jeune). In 1855, the firm of Buffet-Crampon began building the instruments and continued the modifications that Jancourt requested. Bassoons incorporating Theobald Boehm’s ideas and the design innovations of Adolphe Sax were never widely accepted.

Besides those in current use, there have been instruments pitched an octave higher (octave bassoon, fagottino), tenors pitched a fifth higher (often called tenoroons; also basson quinte), and instruments a fourth or a fifth below the normal bassoon (Quart-fagott, Quintfagott). Subcontrabass instruments have also been constructed, but have never achieved much use.


Double-reed woodwind instrument with an air column 18 feet, 4 inches long and a compass an octave below that of the standard bassoon. It has been part of the standard complement of a symphony orchestra since the time of Beethoven, who called for its use in the finale of his Fifth Symphony and again in the Ninth. Its key system and construction are similar to those of the bassoon; as with the bassoon, the air column of the contrabassoon is folded upon itself—not once, however, but twice. The lowest notes are buzzy when sounded by any but the most exceptional players, and the upper register has a tendency to sound shaky and strained. Nonetheless, the instrument is quite effective in its lower octave when doubled by the bassoons an octave above, or in combination with the string basses.


Brahms preferred the contrabassoon to the tuba, using it to anchor the wind section in three of his four symphonies (the exception: Symphony No. 2, in the bright, brassy key of D major). Richard Strauss wrote some extraordinary parts for the instrument as well: It joins the organ and the bass section in sounding the pianissimo low C at the start of Also sprach Zarathustra, and in Salome is assigned an eerie solo with several A-sharps in it—which, during performances many years ago at the Chicago Lyric Opera, caused the eyeballs of the young principal who was playing them to vibrate uncontrollably, thereby rendering him unable to see the music on the page and unsure of when to release the notes.

The problem was remedied when the player memorized the passage. Mahler used the contrabassoon to remarkable effect in the Landlerlike second movement of his Symphony No. 9, and Ravel charmingly made it the “voice” of the beast during the “Conversation of Beauty and the Beast” in his ballet Ma mere I’oye.

Mozart - Bassoon Concerto in B Flat Major, K. 191



[Eng., Fr.; Ger. Saxophon; It. sassofono; Sp. saxofon].
A family of metal, conical-bore, singlereed woodwind instruments invented by Adolphe Sax (1814-94) of Brussels in 1841 and patented by him in 1846    after he settled in Paris. From the beginning, the instruments have been made in two shapes. Smaller saxophones are made in straight form, while larger ones have the bell bent up and toward the front and the neck bent back toward the player. Because Sax intended the instruments for both orchestral and band use, the family actually comprises two parallel groups. The orchestral group has seven sizes, pitched alternately in C and F. The band (or military) group also has seven sizes, pitched alternately in Bb and Eb. In 1904, the firm of C. G. Conn in Elkhart, Indiana, added a subcontrabass. From the orchestral group only the C tenor (called the melody saxophone) is in use today.


All saxophones are notated in the treble clef and have a written range of bb to f'", though some instruments may have additional keys for extending the range downward to written a or below, and skilled players may extend the range upward considerably. Saxophones used today include the sopranino in E (sounding a minor third higher than written), soprano in B (a major second lower), alto in E (a major sixth lower), tenor in Bb (or, less often, C, sounding a major ninth or an octave lower than written), baritone in E (an octave and a major sixth lower), bass in Bb (two octaves and a major second lower), contrabass in Eb (two octaves and a major sixth lower), and subcontrabass in Bb (three octaves and a major second lower). The principal instruments of the family are the alto in Eb, the tenor in Bb, and the baritone in Eb. The saxophone has a fingering system similar to that of the Boehm flute in the right hand; the left hand retains some characteristics of the earlier  simple system.

The instrument has been used extensively in jazz and popular music and in military bands and other large wind ensembles. It has been used to some extent in orchestral and chamber music as well.

The term saxophone has also been used occasionally by organologists as a generic term for a conical-bore, single-reed woodwind that produces a second register by overblowing the octave. This is in distinction to the clarinet type. The tarogato, for example, could be said to be of the saxophone type.

King Super 20 baritone, King Super 20 tenor, King super 20 alto,
and King Saxello soprano saxophone.

While Sax intended the saxophone for a military career, he was aware that support from mainstream musicians would be valuable to its survival. One of the first composers he approached on his arrival in Paris was Hector Berlioz, who expressed interest, as did Giacomo Meyerbeer and Fromental Halevy (1799-1862), the grand duo at the Paris Opera. It was ultimately through opera that the saxophone came into the hands of classical musicians. The Alsatian-born composer Jean-Georges Kastner (1810-67) included a solo for it in his 1844 opera Le dernier roi di Juda, the first “official” use of the instrument; he also wrote a sextet for saxophones that year. Before long, parts for saxophone had appeared in operas by Meyerbeer, Bizet, Massenet, and Ambroise Thomas (1811-96). It took a bit longer for the saxophone to gain a foothold in the concert repertoire. The first composer to include a part for saxophone in a symphony was the American William Henry Fry (1813-64), who did so in his Santa Claus Symphony of 1853; more frequently encountered orchestral works with parts for saxophone include Bizet’s incidental music for L’Arlesienne, Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, and Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem. Ferde Grofe’s symphonic orchestration of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue calls for three saxophones, as does Ravel’s Bolero. Several concerted works for saxophone have established themselves in the repertoire, of which the most notable are Debussy’s Rhapsody, the concertos by Glazunov and Ingolf Dahl (1912-70), and Ibert’s Concertino.

Only after it had been accepted in the classical sphere did jazz discover the saxophone and transform its sound, character, and reputation, in particular via the swing bands of the 1930s and 1940s.

Concerto for Saxophones and Symphony Orchestra -
Roberto Molinelli


[Eng., Fr.; Ger. Sarrusophon; It. sarrusofono; Sp. sarrusofon]. A family of brass, conical-bore, double-reed woodwind instruments invented by the French bandmaster W. Sarrus and constructed for him by P. L. Gautrot, Sr., of Paris.

The sarrusophone was patented by Gautrot in 1856. The instruments exist in eight sizes, ranging from sopranino to subcontrabass. The smaller instruments resemble the straight soprano saxophone, while the lower members of the family are constructed with vertical loops and an up-ward-facing bell. The fingering is based on that of the saxophone, and all have the same written range as the saxophone: bb to f". The member of the family to gain the widest use is the contrabass in Bb or C (lowest sounding pitch Ab2 or Bb2), which often substitutes for the contrabassoon in French orchestral scores written around 1900. 


Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Fujiwara Yasumasa playing the flute by moonlight

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