Monday, November 22, 2021

3 Famous Classical Works That feature Saxophone


The saxophone is often pigeonholed by casual music fans. Many people consider the instrument – invented in the middle of the 19th century – as exclusively suited to jazz or pop music. In reality, the saxophone was initially conceived as a classical instrument and has found many incredible uses in classical pieces. The distinction between classical, pop, and jazz is not as clear as you may think. There are plenty of examples of all three forms bleeding into one another, which makes the distinction between them void in many people’s eyes.

While the saxophone is not part of the woodwind section in traditional Western orchestras, many trailblazing composers have sought to find a place for the off hybrid instrument that fits somewhere between brass and woodwind. In order to illustrate the classical chops of the saxophone, here are 3 of the most famed classical pieces that feature the instrument.

Debussy – Rhapsody For Alto Saxophone

Claude Debussy is often named as the first (and most influential) impressionist composer. His works are instantly recognizable and unbearably beautiful. Any person hearing Clare De Lune for the first time cannot help but be moved at least slightly. Although best known for his sonatas and nocturnes, he also composed rhapsodic music. Notably, for saxophone fans, the great Debussy authored ‘Rhapsody For Alto Saxophone’ in 1911. As the alto saxophone is often the first sax picked up by beginners, many students have attempted to master Debussy’s contribution to the classical saxophone pantheon. If you are thinking of picking up the alto saxophone, check out the online learning portal

Vaughan Williams – Symphony No 6

One of the most remarkable parts of Vaughan Williams’ 1948 symphony is a beautiful saxophone solo. Critics claim Williams was inspired to write the solo in response to the bombing of the CafĂ© Du Paris, which killed a fellow bandleader and composer during the war. Williams, of course, denied having any direct inspiration, stating, ‘can’t a man just write a piece of music’. Some critics have even pointed out that the arid landscapes painted by Williams in the symphony may even represent a grim vision of post-nuclear Britain. Williams was a thematically elusive man who kept his cards close to his chest. What he did leave music fans with, however, was a highly effective symphony. Vaughan Williams is one of the most well-loved of the 20th century British classical composers.

Prokofiev – Romeo And Juliet

Prokofiev’s ballet adaptation of William Shakespeare’s well-loved tragedy had to be seriously revised before it could pass the sensor’s working in the Soviet Union. However, since the initial stunted release, it has been reimagined by many top composers and choreographers, and a film version won the Palm d’Or at Cannes in 1955.

The score famously calls for the addition of a tenor saxophone to the traditional instruments of the ballet. The tenor sax pierces through the sound made by other instruments and creates a very strong melodic identity throughout the piece.


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