One of the most enigmatic figures in the history of the Saxophone, Ali Ben Sou Alle (Charles-Valentin Soualle)
was born in 1820 in Arras, France. After receiving his first prize in Clarinet at the Paris Conservatory in 1844.
he served as the director of music of The French Marine Band in Senegal, and then was named first clarinet solo
at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. However, after the Revolution of 1848, Soualle was forced to flee France to
England where he settled in London, playing in the Orchestra of the Queen´s Theatre. His songs and piano
pieces were published in London.
While in London, Soualle met another exiled French musician, Louis Antoine Jullien, who conducted a light
music series in London. Jullien encouraged Soualle to take up the saxophone, and after modifying the instrument
by adding a single octave mechanism (the modern system used today) and keys for the lower register, Soualle
became known as a virtuoso and began touring performing solo recitals (or mono-concerts, as they were called
at the time) calling his modified saxophone the "turcophone ". He performed in all the European capitals and
then traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Manilla, Java, through China and then to India where he finally settled
in Mysore, becoming the director of the Royal Music for the Maharadjah. It was during this period that he
converted to Islam and changed his nmae to Ali ben Sou Alle (or "Ali, son of Soualle"). He subsequently
travaled to Ile Maurice, to French Polynesia, the Cap of Natal and the Cap of Good Hope. All of these voyages
were subjects of musical works which Soualle entitled "Souvenirs de..." and part of a collection known as
"The Royal Album" which was presented to the Prince of Wales after a royal concert. Soualle returned to
Mysore in 1858 and was almost killed in the Indian Revolution. Around 1860, Soualle returned to France for
health reasons and began publishing his own music. On March 27 1865, he performed a command performance for
the Emperor Napoleon III at the Tuileries Palace in the presence of the entire Imperial Family. After 1865, nothing
more is known about him.