Saxophone Sheet Music

Written by Serena Berger
Bookmark and Share

Saxophone sheet music is available for all of the different saxophone instruments. Whether you play bari, alto, tenor, or soprano sax, you should be able to find music for you to play solo or with an ensemble. The question becomes whether you want to play adaptations of classical works for saxophone, or whether you want to explore the jazz or pop music forms in which saxophones have been more typically used.

There isn't a lot of classical music written for saxophone, as the instrument was not even invented until the mid nineteenth century by Adolphe Sax. Thus Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and many of the great composers never had the option to write for saxophone. The first saxophone was designed to function as a bass clarinet, which explains why even today, the closest link in terms of technique and timbre is between the clarinet and the saxophone, and many musicians play both.

The Earliest Saxophone Sheet Music

The first composer to write for saxophone was Jean-Baptise Singelee, who wrote a concerto for soprano or tenor sax, and a fantaisie for baritone sax in 1858. Richard Wagner was the first high-profile composer to include the instrument in a major work, his 1861 opera Tannhäuser. If you are looking for saxophone sheet music, you might pick up either of these works, both for the joy of playing the music, and also to become more aware of the history of the instrument, and see how its use has evolved in the last century and a half.

Saxophones have not been widely adopted into the orchestral repertoire. They have certainly been used by many composers, such as Ives, Bartok, Massenet, Mussorgsky, and Ravel; but really the saxophone has come into its own in the jazz and pop idioms. Gershwin, as the quintessential classical/jazz crossover composer is responsible for some of the most popular saxophone sheet music, but many strictly jazz or rock writers have written music you might prefer if you are a serious student on any of the sax instruments. You can also find out about playing clarinet music on the sax if you want some variety and want to explore older classical music.


Bookmark and Share