Adolphe Sax – the saxophone 1840-2023

Artvark featuring Leo van Oostrom and his Collection of Saxophones. A brand new project with the nestor of saxophone in the Netherlands: Leo van Oostrom. For many years he has been performing with the Netherlands Saxophone Quartet, the Metropole Orchestra, Beau Hunks and other ensembles such as Asko|Schönberg and the David Kweksilber Bigband. For decades Leo was connected as a teacher to the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.

A few years ago the book ‘100 + 1 Saxen – De Collectie van Leo van Oostrom’ was issued. This book provides an overview of saxophones from the mid 19th century to modern instruments and everything in between. In 40 years, this has become one of the most extraordinary collections in the world. Leo is a unique character in this as he also strives for the highest musical performance on the instrument. He investigates all possibilities himself with fitting or original mouthpieces and is above all interested in the sound and in playing the large range of saxophones.

Artvark was invited to visit Leo’s personal ‘museum’ at his home to exchange ideas for new music on the old instruments. The slide sax may sound hilarious at first hearing, but what happens if an Arvo Pärt-like approach is applied on it? How does an alto sax in F stand up to the Artvark Quartet, how do the original ‘Adolphe Saxes’ from 1860 sound with matching mouthpieces in a modern composition with improvisation? In short: these old instruments are a completely new challenge in the search for sound possibilities.

Leo van Oostrom’s unprecedented library knowledge shows a diverse and wide landscape of the instrument. The saxophone may have been invented in 1842 by Adolphe Sax, in 2020 the possibilities still seem endless and the instrument is reinvented over and over again.