Renowned as a prominent figure in the world of classical saxophone, Larry Teal’s contributions as a performer, pedagogue, and author have shaped the landscape of saxophone pedagogy and performance. Born in 1905 in Michigan, Teal’s lifelong passion for the saxophone began at a young age and developed into a career that spanned over six decades, leaving an indelible impact on the saxophone community.
Teal’s professional career as a saxophonist took off in the 1920s when he started performing with Detroit Symphony Orchestra, making him the first full-time saxophonist in a major American symphony orchestra. His groundbreaking tenure at the DSO from 1928 to 1942 played a crucial role in integrating the saxophone into the classical music world, expanding the instrument’s scope beyond its traditional roles in jazz and band music.
Teal’s dedication to the saxophone extended to academia, where he became an influential educator. In 1953, he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, becoming the first person in the United States to hold a full-time faculty position in saxophone. His influence as a teacher was profound, with numerous students going on to have significant careers in performance and teaching, carrying forward his pedagogical approach and advancing the status of the saxophone in the classical music field.
In addition to his performance and teaching careers, Teal was also an acclaimed author. His book “The Art of Saxophone Playing,” first published in 1963, remains one of the most influential saxophone technique books. In it, Teal shares his insights into tone production, technique, and musical interpretation, and the book continues to serve as a cornerstone for saxophone education.
Teal was a founding member of the World Saxophone Congress, an organization that brings together saxophonists from around the globe, further demonstrating his dedication to the saxophone community. His efforts have helped to establish the saxophone as a legitimate instrument in classical music and his influence continues to resonate in the world of saxophone performance and education.
Larry Teal’s profound influence on the saxophone world can’t be overstated. Through his performance, teaching, and writings, he has shaped the landscape of classical saxophone, leaving a legacy that continues to inspire generations of saxophonists and music educators.
Page last updated 7/7/2023.