What is the detailed history of Selmer saxophones?
Selmer saxophones, renowned for their quality and association with many iconic musicians, have a rich history that reflects the evolution of the saxophone itself. Here's a detailed look at their journey:
19th Century Beginnings
- Founding of Selmer: The Selmer Company was founded in 1885 by Henri Selmer in Paris. Originally a clarinetist in the Garde Républicaine and the Paris Opera, Henri started his business focused on woodwind instruments, particularly clarinets.
Early 20th Century
- Expansion into Saxophones: In the early 1900s, Selmer expanded into saxophone production, coinciding with the instrument's growing popularity in both classical and jazz music.
- World War I Impact: The First World War slowed the company's growth, but post-war, Selmer established itself as a key player in the world of professional saxophones.
The Interwar Period
- Model Series Development: Selmer introduced several saxophone models during the 1920s and 1930s, such as the "Cigar Cutter," "Super Sax," and "Radio Improved." These models featured improvements in keywork and design, increasingly aligning with professional musicians' needs.
The Golden Era - Mark VI
- Introduction of the Mark VI: In 1954, Selmer launched the Mark VI model, which would become one of the most revered saxophones in history. Its superior ergonomics, intonation, and tone quality set new industry standards.
- Famous Musicians: Iconic saxophonists like John Coltrane, Paul Desmond, and Sonny Rollins played Mark VI saxophones, further cementing its legendary status.
Late 20th Century Innovations
- New Models Post Mark VI: After the production of the Mark VI ended in the early 1970s, Selmer released new models like the Mark VII (targeting a more modern market with design changes) and the Super Action 80 (further refining the saxophone's mechanisms and sound).
- Super Action 80 Series II and III: These models, introduced in the late 20th century, continued Selmer's tradition of innovation, offering improved ergonomics and tonal qualities.
21st Century and Beyond
- Contemporary Models: Selmer has continued to innovate with models like the Reference 54 and the Series III, combining traditional craftsmanship with modern technology.
- Digital Age Adaptation: The company has adapted to the digital age, maintaining its reputation for quality while facing increased global competition.
Legacy and Influence
- Enduring Legacy: Selmer saxophones have been integral to the development of both jazz and classical saxophone music.
- Global Recognition: Today, Selmer remains a prestigious name in the saxophone world, appreciated for its commitment to quality, craftsmanship, and musical excellence.
Throughout their history, Selmer saxophones have not only provided instruments for musicians but have also shaped the sound and development of saxophone music. Their continual innovation and adherence to quality have ensured their place at the forefront of woodwind instrument manufacturing.