Consistently acknowledged as America’s foremost classical saxophonist
Harvey Pittel began the study of music at Clifford Street Elementary School in Los Angeles at age seven. After early instruction with Chesley Mills, he went on to study with Kalman Bloch, Principal Clarinetist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Franklyn Stokes, Bass Clarinetist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and Anthony Desiderio and Mitchell Lurie at the University of Southern California. Upon graduation from USC, Mr. Pittel studied with Fred Hemke at Northwestern University where he received the Master of Music Degree in Saxophone Performance.
As a member of the West Point Military Academy Band, he began his studies with Joseph Allard of the Juilliard School and was later mentored by the great Kapellmeister, pianist and conductor Jens Nygaard of the Jupiter Symphony in New York City.
Consistently acknowledged as America’s foremost classical saxophonist, Harvey Pittel has popularized the very concept of the saxophone in concert and has elevated his instrument to a new level of appreciation by lovers of fine music.
Commanding an enormous and diverse portion of the saxophone’s vast solo and chamber repertoire, Mr. Pittel performs music written for the instrument by composers as varied as Debussy, Hovhaness, Babbitt, Villa-Lobos, and Glazunov, as well as his own transcriptions of baroque and classical works by Bach, Marcello, Loeillet, and others. With the Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet, he performs chamber music as well as the popular saxophone repertoire of the vaudeville, ragtime and swing eras. In addition, he has added to the instrument’s body of work through commissions from composers such as Milton Babbit and Luciano Berio and through performances of numerous premieres.
His discography includes twenty-eight recordings of duos, trios, quartets and concertos with orchestra, and he has been featured on soundtracks of several films including Woody Allen’s Manhattan. In addition, he has been a guest on the Today show and a featured artist on Live from Lincoln Center and Spoleto Festival USA telecasts.
His Harvey Pittel Trio and Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet have appeared in hundreds of concerts throughout North America and around the world.
He has appeared as soloist with numerous symphony orchestras, including the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonic, Boston, Denver, and Seattle Symphonies, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, and a host of others, under the direction of such conductors as Zubin Mehta, Seiji Ozawa, Neville Marriner, and Michael Tilson Thomas. Overseas, he has appeared with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva, the London Sinfonietta, and Bergen Philharmonic, as well as in recital in Mexico, throughout Europe and the Far East.
His recitals around the world, including eight major New York appearances, have brought Mr. Pittel such praise from the New York Times as: “he combined stunning virtuosity with impeccable musicianship, in addition to which he produced the most beautiful and pure tone I have ever heard from a saxophone.” The publication also called him “the Segovia of the Saxophone,” and “a master on his instrument.”
His recent performances include an appearance with The New York Philharmonic Soloists at Lincoln Center, solo recitals, master classes, and concerts with The Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet.
The recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, two Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund grants and a National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalist Grant, Harvey Pittel has twice been presented as a winner of the Concert Artist Guild competition. His other awards include a silver medal earned in the Concourse International d’Execution Musicale in Geneva. He presented six seasons of concerts as an Affiliate Artist. His festival participation has included Spoleto Festival USA, Brevard Music Center, Aspen Music Festival, Ojai Music Festival, Tanglewood Institute, and Marlboro Festival, the latter at the invitation of the late Rudolf Serkin.
As an educator, Mr. Pittel has taught at the Mannes College of Music in New York City, Montclair State College in New Jersey, Boston University, California State Colleges at Fullerton, Long Beach, and San Diego, in addition to The University of Southern California. He holds the position of Professor Emeritus from The Butler School of Music at The University of Texas. He is currently on the faculty of the Colburn School’s Community School of Performing Arts and will assume the position of Adjunct Professor of Saxophone at California State University at Los Angeles in the fall of 2018.
His pedagogy, “Harvey Pittel Presents the Teachings of the Master Joe Allard” and “Harvey Pittel’s Visit With Marcel Mule,” can be viewed on the Andreas Eastman YouTube page.
His numerous recordings include Bach and Noodles and Moving Along for saxophone and piano (Crystal Records); The Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet Live In Chicago, Tex Sax, Harvey Pittel With The University Of Texas Wind Ensemble, and his recent release of La Linge, La Sonorite: A Tribute To Marcel Mule. The recent recordings, Tex Sax: Next Generation and Over The Rainbow and Bach Again, were listed for Grammy nomination and are available on the Mark and Longhorn and Naxos labels. The American Record Guide referred to Harvey Pittel as “the standard-bearer of American saxophone playing” for his Sextuor recording on Crystal Records.