Fri, Jan 28, 2011 - Page 2 News List

New museum strikes right note

SAX MANIAC:The Chang Lien-cheng Saxophone Museum is named after the man who made the first saxophone in Taiwan, losing the sight in one of his eyes in the process

Staff writer, with CNA

The daughters of Chang Tsung-yao perform at the opening of the Chang Lien-cheng Saxophone Museum in Houli District, Greater Taichung, yesterday. Chang Tsung-yao is the grandson of Chang Lien-cheng, the man who started the saxophone industry in central Taiwan.

Photo: CNA

A saxophone museum documenting the life of Taiwan’s first saxophone maker and the development of saxophone making in Houli District (后里), Greater Taichung, opened to the public yesterday.

The Chang Lien-cheng (張連昌) Saxophone Museum is named after a local resident who made the first saxophone in Taiwan on his own, sparking the development of the saxophone production industry in Houli, which is now one of the largest centers of saxophone production in the world.


Located in a town nicknamed “Musical Instrument Town,” the museum will display a collection of saxophones. Previously a memorial hall dedicated to Chang, the museum site now has a new two-story building, a concert hall and a tourist-friendly factory that allows visitors to see how the instrument is made.

“The museum is certainly not the only saxophone museum in Taiwan, but it is definitely the only one with a lot of stories to be shared,” Wang Tsai-jui (王彩蕊), Chang’s granddaughter-in-law, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Chang, born in 1912, was a farmer’s son who abandoned the family’s farm to become a painter. He later joined a band when he was in his 20s.

“No one during the 1930s was actually playing any kind of Western instruments, but Chang was fascinated by the saxophone,” Wang said.


When Chang’s saxophone was damaged in a fire, he was determined to build the brass tube by himself. He started from observing the shape of the instrument on canvas.

Three years into the making of the saxophone in 1948, he lost the sight in his right eye when a piece of copper flashed into his eyeball. However, the incident did not stop Chang from continuing his pursuit and the first locally made saxophone was finished shortly after the accident.

“The museum is really about showing the personality and perseverance of a person who loved music so much,” Wang said.

Chang trained a number of apprentices, helping saxophone making become a lucrative export industry for Taiwan from the 1950s to the 1990s. It’s no longer as profitable as it once was because of competition from China.

Two of the must-see saxophones in the museum are an intricately made instrument with a dragon decoration on the tube, specially made by Chang, and a 160-year-old saxophone produced by saxophone inventor Adolphe Sax, which was found and bought by Wang’s family through laborious trips to Belgium, Wang said.


“We knew from the start that the museum is about more than showcasing the locally made instruments; we want to tell the very first story of this fascinating instrument,” Wang said.

Wang’s four daughters are all saxophone players.

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