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Charles Jean-Baptiste Soualle and the Saxophone

Cottrell, S.J. ORCID: 0000-0003-4019-798X (2018). Charles Jean-Baptiste Soualle and the Saxophone. Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society, XLIV, pp. 179-208.


Charles Jean-Baptiste Soualle is an enigmatic figure in the history of nineteenth-century music. It is sometimes recognized that he achieved distinction as a clarinettist and saxophonist in Paris and London in the late 1840s and early 1850s, before undertaking a world tour that was prodigious by the standards of the time; and that he adopted the orientalist stage persona of ‘Ali Ben Sou Alle’, performing on a modified version of the saxophone which, in keeping with his stage act, he renamed as a ‘turkophone’. But details beyond these bare facts are often elusive.

This paper explores Soualle’s global concertizing in the mid-nineteenth century and endeavors to set out an authoritative version of a story that makes tantalizing appearances elsewhere.1 It considers Soualle’s contribution not only to the saxophone’s dissemination and repertory in the nineteenth-century, but also, because of several modifications to the instrument that he protected by patent in 1860, to its technical development. In short, the paper seeks to position Soualle as a rather more important figure in saxophone history than has previously been accepted.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © American Musical Instrument Society. This is the published version of an article published by The American Musical Instrument Society. The version of record is to be found at
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
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