John Harle

John Harle is an Ivor Novello Award-winning composer, saxophonist and record producer.


He has emerged as one of the UK's most gifted thematic composers with more than 100 major credits to his name, ranging from Silent Witness (BBC)  and Lucian Freud - Painted Life (BBC) to the epic score to A History of Britain (BBC), Simon Schamas' multi-award winning series.

He is the recipient of an Ivor Novello Award and two Royal Television Society wards for ‘Best Soundtrack’.


John has composed over 30 concert works and has been awarded four commissions from the BBC Proms, including his first Opera, Angel Magick. 

His ballet Arcadia was commissioned by Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2016 and is currently touring the UK.

Johns' album Terror and Magnificence album with vocalist Elvis Costello was Grammy-nominated and reached No.1 in the US Billboard charts, culminating in sell-out concert at the Royal Festival Hall, London.


In recent years, he has composed a rich stream of works, including his saxophone concerto The Little Death Machine

(BBC Proms), City Solstice (for Kings College Cambridge Choir) and Earthlight (for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra).


John is Creative Director of Bauhaus Music, a new global music provision company for film and TV, with partners Nigel Barr (Music Supervision and Busioness Affairs) and Faber Music (Publishing). 

He has written the soundtracks of advertisements and trailers for major corporate clients including Sky Sports/Premier League, Sony, Toyota, BT, Vauxhall, Harveys, Nissan, Archers, Mazda and P+O.


John was artistic advisor and producer to Sir Paul McCartney for six years, and other major artistic collaborations have included Herbie Hancock,  Elvis Costello, Michael Nyman and Marc Almond. A prominent media figure, he is a regular contributor to Radio 4 Front Row, and has been a castaway on Desert Island Discs.

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.





“Harle gallops across his musical terrain with the attitude of Axl Rose. Terrifyingly extreme and magnificently audacious, Harle is a powerful force in British Jazz and Pop, and has the integrity, passion and vision to challenge listeners” 



“Harle's style has an integrity all of its own” 



“The music of John Harle is very fast moving, urgently collaborative, often witty, sinewy, ironic and urban” 



“John Harle's music is complex, darkly humorous and full of ear-catching quirkiness. You're bowled over by the variety, energy and sheer size of his music. It merits every ounce of the effort put into it” 



“He's an omnivorous enthusiast, a truly unfashionable state of mind in a self-conscious age of irony, but something which links him with the late American master, Leonard Bernstein” 



"Harle - the Alchemist of Ambient Soundscapes"



“Harle's compositions are testament to the extraordinary versatility of this brilliant saxophonist” 



“Harle's rich, extravagant settings could have been written for the late 1960's Scott Walker” 

THE ARTS DESK **** (on 'Art Music')


“John Harle's lurid The Little Death Machine, premiered in the late-night Prom, was full of spark as the saxophonist composer's solo soared, blasted and panted over ghoulish riffs, swooping samples and a manic orchestral dance groove. This now formidable creative figure often functions best in mixing genres”



“Marvelously vigorous, ironic and atmospheric”
THE TIMES **** (on 'The Tyburn Tree')

“A stunning contemporary production”
PROG MAGAZINE **** (on 'The Tyburn Tree')

"Harle writes exuberantly: early synthesisers swoop around a conventional chamber orchestra; a drum machine kicks in; it seems we are in a bond theme, then it is on to a swathe of trip-hop".




Ivor Novello Awards

IVOR NOVELLO AWARD for Best Soundtrack 2013 - for 'Lucian Freud - Painted Life' (Blakeway Productions for BBC2).

The Royal Television Society

RTS AWARD for 'best original music for television' 2012 - for 'Lucian Freud - Painted

Life' (Blakeway Productions for BBC2).

RTS Nomination for best music for television 2009 - The Commander (LaPlante/ITV1)

RTS Nomination for best music for television 2005 - Summer in the Suburbs (BBC2)


RTS AWARD for best theme for television 2003 - Silent Witness (BBC1)
RTS Nomination for best music for television 2002 - Defence of the Realm (BBC1)


Grammy Nomination 1999 - Terror and Magnificence

Billboard USA

No.1 Crossover Album 1999 - Terror and Magnificence

Mercury Music Awards

MMA Nomination - 1999 - Terror and Magnificence

UK Advertising Awards

Nomination for Best Original Music - 1999 - Flying (TBWA/Trevor Beattie/Nissan)

UK Dance Charts

No. 1 Position - 1996 - Flying (Remix)

Cannes Film Festival

Best Artistic Achievement in a Feature Film - 1988 - Prick Up Your Ears - with Stanley Myers










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