John Harle

Represented in Italy

John Harle is an Ivor Novello award-winning saxophonist, composer, and record producer, whose work spans across musical genres from classical to contemporary pop.

His early work gained public acclaim with his Saxophone Concertos album on EMI Classics which is widely seen as the definitive recording of the major classical works, and his playing has been the catalyst for an outpouring of new concertos by composers including Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Marc Anthony Turnage, Sir John Tavener, Sally Beamish, Michael Nyman and Gavin Bryars.


John’s performance of Birtwistle's saxophone concerto Panic at the Last Night of the BBC Proms in 1995 was cited by many critics as the most controversial premiere of a new musical work since Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring in 1913.


He has performed with countless orchestras and conductors worldwide and has sold over half a million CDs in the classical field alone.

John is the composer of over 100 film and TV scores, two operas and 50 concert works, including the theme to BBC1's Silent Witness, and the epic score to Simon Schama’s A History of Britain. He is the recipient of an Ivor Novello award and two Royal Television Society awards for Best Music.

John’s tribute album to Duke Ellington, The Shadow of the Duke was followed with 

collaborations with jazz artists such as Herbie Hancock and Andy Sheppard.

He was artistic advisor and producer to Sir Paul McCartney for six years, and other major collaborations have included albums and tours with Elvis Costello and Marc Almond.
A prominent media figure, he is a regular contributor to Radio 4 Front Row, and was a castaway on Desert Island Discs. He also contributes written articles to major publications.

He has been musical director and producer for Moondog, Herbie Hancock, Elmer Bernstein, 

Ute Lemper, Lesley Garrett, Kathryn Tickell, Michael Nyman, Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine. He is the founder and producer of Sospiro Records.

John was a Foundation Scholar at The Royal College of Music, London (and the first ever student to receive a 100% graduation mark), and then French Government Music Scholar, studying with Daniel Deffayet in Paris. In 1984 he won the Amcon Award of The American Concert Artists Guild.

John was appointed the youngest ever Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, starting the saxophone department at the age of 26, and his teaching has produced many of the leading players of today.


He is now Visiting Professor of Saxophone at The Guildhall School, where he leads a Masters degree in Creative Saxophone Performance, whilst also continuing to teach and mentor saxophonists and composers from all parts of the globe. He is the author of The Saxophone (Faber Music), the definitive reference work on saxophone playing and performance.

He is currently collaborating with Sir Harrison Birtwistle on a contemporary reconstruction of Guillame de Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame, and songwriting with Marc Almond for an album of pop torch songs for Sony/BMG. He is the father of writer and curator Dr. Matthew Harle and Columbia Records composer/ producer Danny L Harle.