Monday, January 26, 2015

The OPHICLEIDE and Friends

 I often think of those old teachers we had growing up in Charlotte. I sincerely believe that among all the good luck, or blessings, we enjoyed, our teachers rank pretty high on the list. Many of the men were WW2 veterans and all of the faculty were members of "the greatest generation.

It would not have even occurred to us to mention that every one of them "loved this country."

One of my favorites was Mr. Michael Wise, my violin teacher at Piedmont, and from whom I took private lessons for a good 10 years.  His studio was in one of those big old beautiful houses on Elizabeth Ave....a couple of blocks up from Central High. I don't believe he served in WW2; my guess is he was a bit too old at the time. 

He was a fine violinist himself  and although  he also had a number of "wind instrument students" his first choice was without a doubt the fiddle.  I remember him saying one time that whoever invented the Saxophone should be shot.

Well, now that we (even us C students) can find the answer to just about anything by simply hitting a button or two on a computer I decided to find out who Mr. Wise might be gunning for...if they were both still around.

And the answer is..........

The ophicleid
Adolphe Sax, a Belgian instrument maker and accomplished ophicleide player, an instrument he also invented.

His namesake horn made its first appearance in 1840. It was actually an improved ophicleide which itself was an improvement over a somewhat similar keyed instrument called the SERPENT...

undoubtedly the ugliest instrument ever made.  And it didn't sound that great either.

The Serpent

Not sure who invented this monstrosity, but I believe this could be called the "first" Saxophone...invented in 1530.