Sigurd Rascher, born on May 15, 1907 in Elberfeld, Germany, was a renowned saxophonist and music educator who played a pivotal role in shaping the history of the saxophone. He was known for his broad four-octave range, expanding the traditional range of the saxophone and paving the way for the future of the instrument. Rascher’s commitment to the saxophone extended beyond performance, leading him to become a significant advocate for the instrument in classical music circles.
Rascher’s initial musical training was on piano and violin, but he eventually shifted his focus to the saxophone, studying with François Combelle, the principal saxophonist of the Garde Republicaine Band in Paris. He made his solo debut with the Berlin Philharmonic at the young age of 20, where he played Jacques Ibert’s “Concertino da Camera” and Vincent d’Indy’s “Choral varié.”
Rascher’s career was marked by an active involvement in expanding the saxophone’s repertoire. He was responsible for the commission and premiere of over 200 works, including those by Glazunov, Ibert, and Dahl. His collaboration with Alexander Glazunov led to the composition of the “Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra” which has since become a cornerstone of the classical saxophone repertoire.
Aside from his performance career, Rascher was an influential teacher who shared his innovative techniques and expansive knowledge of the saxophone with generations of students. He taught at the Manhattan School of Music and the New England Conservatory and held numerous master classes worldwide. His pedagogical contributions to the field, particularly his development of a system of overtone exercises, have been widely recognized and continue to be utilized by saxophone students.
Rascher’s impact on the saxophone world extends to the design and production of the instrument as well. He worked closely with the Buescher Band Instrument Company, contributing to the design of their “Top Hat and Cane” model saxophones. These instruments are now considered vintage classics by many saxophonists.
Sigurd Rascher passed away on February 25, 2001, in Shushan, New York. His legacy continues to thrive through the many students he taught and the innovative techniques he introduced to the saxophone world. His contributions have forever shaped the history of the saxophone and his influence continues to resonate in the world of music.
Page last updated 6/18/2023.