“Celebrating Sax: Instruments and Innovation” Exhibition

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

poster for “Celebrating Sax: Instruments and Innovation” Exhibition

This event has ended.

This special display of instruments made by three generations of the Sax family marks the bicentenary of the birth of Adolphe Sax. Rare saxophones, brass instruments, and an exquisite ivory clarinet are among the twenty-six instruments selected to showcase the inventions and innovations of this important family.

There are few instrument makers who have become a household name. The eponymous instruments of Adolphe Sax have had a wide-reaching impact on music and society. Patented in 1846 and conceived as a military band and orchestral instrument, the saxophone is now integral to many different types of music around the world. Through jazz and pop, it achieved the type of universal popularity matched by few other instruments. During Sax’s life, military and band music were transformed by saxhorns, his innovative family of brass instruments. The saxhorn fueled the brass band movement, which opened up music making to the working classes. Modern day euphoniums, tenor horns, and baritones are all descendants of the saxhorn family.

The bicentenary of Adolphe Sax’s birth also marks the 125th anniversary of the gift of over 3,600 instruments to the Met by the pioneering collector Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown. Sax was also an avid collector, active during a formative period of musical instrument scholarship. Many important instrument collections were established during his lifetime, including the one at the Metropolitan Museum. Sax and Brown circulated in the same international community of scholars and collectors, and instruments made by the Sax family featured prominently in Brown’s collection as examples of cutting-edge instrument design. They continue to inspire performers, composers, and instrument makers.



from November 06, 2014 to April 30, 2015

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