Invented by Adolphe Sax in 1846 – The saxophone is considered a relatively new instrument
Nestled in his Paris workshop, Adolphe Sax manufactured standard instruments, gradually introducing improvements along the way. In 1845, Sax patented a family of brass instruments he called saxhorns, and in 1846, the saxophone family made its first appearance ranging from bass to sopranino.
Today the usual saxophone family consists of Soprano in Bb, Alto in Eb, Tenor in Bb and Baritone in Eb. You can get hold of sopraninos, melody C saxes and Bass saxes too but these are much rarer.
A student model tenor saxophone will cost around £300-500 rising to several thousand for a pro instrument. The legendary Selmer Mk V1 is considered to be the best Tenor sax ever made.
Have a look at how a sax is made on this You Tube clip
Unlike other classical instruments, not much orchestral music has been written for the saxophone. This is partly due to the fact its still a relatively new instrument and partly due to the individual tone each player can produce on it, making it hard for a composer to get what he wants. Most saxes are used for jazz and more modern music.