A summary of the incredible story of the birth of the saxophone, as told in this excerpt from Michael Segell's The Devil's Horn: The Story of the Saxophone, from Noisy Novelty to King of Cool:
Fiery Belgian Adolphe Sax was determined to conquer the world, one invented or redesigned instrument at a time. Unable to be a prophet in his own land, he turned to the risibly bad French military bands. Sax knew his instruments were the Air Jordans these bands needed to equal the mighty Prussians.
The establishment and the instrument-making industry resisted, but Sax had friends in high places. A battle of the bands was organised on the Champ de Mars, during which Sax himself strode into battle, a saxophone under each arm. The souped-up, Sax-led group blew away the traditional band, and drove the 20,000 attendees wild. The newly-empowered French military bands rose, Hoosiers-like, through the international ranks, winning prizes left and right. The saxophone had arrived.
The rest, as they say, is history, until rock 'n' roll arrived and it all went downhill.