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 may perhaps have been 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.
Souvenirs de la Chine starts with a setting of the Chinese folksong " Loc-tee-kun-tzin ", one of eight used by Pucinni in his
opera Turandot but set in a completely different harmonic context here. The Rondo which follows is in the form of a valse with
several scherzando passages and an brillant code. The folksong is briefly reprised before the concise ending.