Kennispunt Mecenaatstudies


The Legacy of Elise Hall. Contemporary Perspectives on Gender and the Saxophone

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of Elise Hall, a pioneering musician in the history of the saxophone. The saxophone is a globally popular instrument, often closely associated with renowned players such as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, or more recently, Kenny G. Less well known, however, is the historical presence of women saxophonists in the nineteenth century, shortly after the instrument’s invention. Elise Hall (1853–1924), a prominent wealthy socialite in Boston at the turn of the twentieth century, defied social norms by mastering the saxophone, an unconventional instrument for a woman of her time. Despite her career’s profound impact, Elise Hall remains relatively obscure in broader music communities. Her untiring work as an impresario, patron, and performer made a significant mark on the history of the instrument. Yet these contributions have been historically undervalued, largely due to gender bias. This collection of essays, written by mainly women saxophonists/scholars, re-evaluates Elise Hall’s legacy beyond a discrete history, updating the narrative by highlighting the ways in which her identity and the saxophone itself have influenced historical accounts. By analyzing the sociocultural factors surrounding this innovative musician through a contemporary lens, the contributors challenge previously held narratives shaped by patriarchal structures and collectively affirm her place as one of the pioneers in the history of the saxophone.

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