The Saxophones of Houli 張連昌薩克斯風博物館
Houli produces some of the best saxophones in the world and they can all be traced back to one man, Lien Chang (1913-1986). The father of Taiwan’s saxophone industry Lien Chang began life as an painter. In 1936, he formed a jazz band with friends who lost their only saxophone in a fire. Using his fine-art skills, Chang was able to draw its 400 individual parts by hand and three years later assembled Taiwan’s first home-produced sax. Though he lost an eye in the process, Lien Chang Saxophones quickly became successful and other saxophone manufacturers soon opened. Until recently Houli produced over half of all amateur saxophones in the world, however, many factories have closed due to competition from China. Today Houli is still home to 15 of Taiwan’s remaining 25 saxophone makers and the area takes a lot of pride in its manufacturing past.
Houli Lien Chang Saxophone Museum
What’s most striking when you visit the Lien Chang Saxophone Museum, was the late founder’s life-long obsession with creating quality saxophones. The museum opened in 2011 and houses some of the world’s earliest saxophone including one made by the inventor of the saxophone Adolfe Sax 160 years ago, as well as originals handcrafted by Lien Chang in the 1960s. The museum features artfully lit exhibits of a variety of saxophone styles. Visitors can learn about the history of the instrument, the different kinds of sax from alto to baritone and their different sound qualities. There are regular performances in the museum and a factory tour too. Recently, Lien Chang’s four grandchildren have become informal ambassadors for the company and often perform at the museum and around Taiwan.
The Lien Chang Museum is free to enter and the small on-site gift shops sells a wide array of saxophone related memorabilia from T-shirts to key chains and postcards.