Harvey Pittel

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Harvey Pittel (born June 22, 1943) is an American saxophonist who performs principally in North America, and, before retiring, was the Professor of Saxophone at the University of Texas at Austin Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music in the College of Fine Arts.[1] Following studies as a music education major at the University of Southern California (USC),[2] Pittel obtained his master's degree under the tutelage of Fred Hemke at Northwestern University and subsequently studied at the Juilliard School with Joseph Allard.[2] He performed a solo recital at Carnegie Hall in 1973 as a winner of the Concert Artists Guild competition. He has edited the saxophone and piano reduction of the Ingolf Dahl Concerto for Saxophone and Band based on his work with Dahl during his studies at the University of Southern California. His version of the Concerto is the standard version of this piece played today, and has performed the piece under Dahl, as well as Michael Tilson Thomas and Zubin Mehta. Mr. Pittel has performed with many major orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, San Antonio Symphony, and Austin Symphony.

Complete Biography from the Saxophone Journal

There are few saxophone masters in the modern world, and even fewer who compare to Harvey Pittel. For Pittel, the title “master” is an appropriately well-earned and well-deserved description. The critics of the United States agree. The New York Times’ Raymond Ericson wrote, in regard to one of Pittel’s many New York concerts, that the music he heard was “An evening as stimulating musically as it was dazzling technically.” Michael Steinberg of the Boston Globe wrote, Pittel is “A superb musician and instrumentalist, with an elegant sense of phrase, vast technical resources, and beautiful firmly-centered tone.” The San Francisco Chronicle pointed out how Pittel has reached the goal for which all us musicians strive, “The thing about Pittel is that he plays so well and so stylishly… The control and variety of timbre – along with a varied chest of instruments – allows him to adapt to whatever he plays.” And now the kicker, “One ends up hearing the music rather than the performer;” there just can’t be a loftier goal, and one which Pittel achieves night after night after night. Winthrop Sargeant in The New Yorker furthered all of those sentiments when he wrote, “(Pittel is) Clearly a master of his instrument.” The great critic Harold Schonberg, also of The New York Times, summed it up the same way, “(Pittel is) A master of his instrument.” As Stan Lee would say, “’Nuff said.”

For Pittel, born June 22, 1943, however, playing solo recitals is just one portion of a vast web of musical endeavors. As an orchestral soloist he has performed with the New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Louisville, Sacramento, Chautauqua, San Jose and San Antonio symphonies, to list just a few. Among the many conductors Pittel has worked with are Zubin Mehta, Michael Tilson Thomas, Varujan Kojian, Carter Nice, Abraham Chavez, Neville Marriner, Ingolf Dahl, Seiji Ozawa, Andrew Davis, Aaron Sten and Jose Serebrier. For Pittel, early collegiate work as a Music Education Major at the University of Southern California (USC) led him to graduate studies with Fred Hemke at Northwestern University where Pittel earned his master's degree. During the Vietnam War years Pittel served his country by accepting an appointment to The West Point Military Academy Band as an enlisted man. During this time he began further studies with Joe Allard of the Juilliard School. It was also during this time when Pittel made many trips to New York City to perform a wide variety of gigs, from small chamber pieces to works with orchestras, and it was just after leaving the West Point Band when Pittel won the Concert Artists Guild Competition and through this made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1971 playing to such acclamation he was re-presented by the same organization in 1973.

When Pittel’s tour of duty was over he accepted a position as the saxophone teacher at USC, building the studio up to full size from just four when he was hired. Concurrently with the USC position, Pittel, who is constantly in a state of high energy as this interview will attest to, furthered his teaching credentials by accepting positions teaching at Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State San Diego and East Los Angeles Junior College. Along with his many teaching successes, it was also during this period when Pittel’s performance career took off. In 1978 he made the jump and moved to New York City on a full-time basis, growing tired of continually hopping across the country from California to New York for all the gigs he was playing in the Big Apple. The move paid off and Pittel quickly found himself as perhaps the most in-demand saxophonist, no matter the genre, as a soloist worldwide. Today, in addition to a ridiculously busy performing schedule, Pittel is also the Professor of Saxophone at The University of Texas at Austin, performs as a soloist with professional orchestras and collegiate groups of all manner, gives countless solo recitals, tours with the Harvey Pittel Duo, the Harvey Pittel Trio, and the Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet, judges musical competitions throughout the world, gives innumerable master classes and clinics, and is frequently called upon to speak to different groups regarding music and its performance. Along the way Pittel has been featured on a number of movie soundtracks, including Manhattan for Woody Allen, appeared as a guest on The Today Show - seriously how many saxophonists can list that on their resume - and been featured on Live From Lincoln Center. He has received numerous other awards including two Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund grants, and a National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalist grant. To be fair and honest, all of the accolades listed above still leave so many equally stunning achievements out. A funny and warm individual, this kind of a litany of accomplishments would, for us mere mortals, be the work of three lifetimes, but for Pittel, who is still young, one knows for sure it’s only the beginning

Former students include: Dr Jeffrey Benedict (faculty, Department of Music, California State University, Los Angeles),[3] Dr Dan Goble (Dean, School of Visual and Performing Arts, Western Connecticut State University; also plays with the Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet),[4] Todd Oxford (faculty, School of Music, Texas State University, San Marcos)[5] Steve Mohacey, Dr. Jack Cooper (faculty, University of Memphis, School of Music), Vincent Gnojek (faculty, School of Music, University of Kansas),[6] Roger Greenberg (Retired from University of Northern Colorado), James Rotter (Retired, Cal State Fullerton, USC Thornton School of Music), Robert Medina (Elision Saxophone Quartet), Todd Yukumoto (University of Hawaii), Javier Oviedo (faculty, Western Connecticut State University), Paul Haar (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), Rami El-Farrah (Faculty, School of Music, University of Texas at San Antonio) Mace Hibbard (Georgia State University), Andrew Harrison (Mt. San Antonio College, Cerritos College), Jeremy Justeson (Kutztown University of Pennsylvania), Allen Won (faculty, The Mannes College for Music),[7] William Graves, James Hairston, Debra McKim (Hastings College). Branford Marsalis and Kenny Garrett are among the most notable jazz saxophonists that have studied with Pittel.

Discography (selection)[edit]

  • Orion Sax Quartet - Orion Saxophone Quartet With Special Guest, Harvey Pittel (Cenataur CRC 2455)
  • Contrasts (CRS Artists 0686)
  • With Jupiter Symphony: Live In New York (Crys- tal Records)
  • With RCC Wind Ensemble: Shape Shifter (Sea Breeze Classical Records)
  • With University of Texas Saxophone Ensemble: Over The Rainbow and Bach Again (Naxos)
  • With University of Texas Saxophone Ensemble: Tex Sax Next Generation (Mark Records 7119)
  • With University of Texas Saxophone Ensemble: Tex Sax (Mark Records 2280)
  • Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet: It Might As Well Be Spring (HP Records 0400)
  • With University of Texas Wind Ensemble: Husa/Maslanka Concertos (Mark Records 3932)
  • With University of Texas Wind Ensemble: At Carnegie Hall (Mark Records 26970)
  • La Linge, La Sonorite, A Tribute to Marcel Mule (Mark Records 5050)
  • With Louisville Symphony: Music of Paul Chihara (New World Records 815)
  • Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet: Live In Chicago (Mark Records 2106)
  • With Jeff Helmer; Moving Along (Crystal 655)
  • Bach and Noodles (Crystal 654)
  • With the New York Philharmonic: Pictures At An Exhibition (CBS MK 35165)
  • With Ry Cooder: Jazz (Warner Brothers BSK 3197)
  • With Teresa Strata: Strata Sings Weill (Nonesuch 9 79131-1 F)
  • Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet: A Little Night Music (@ 1987)
  • Harvey Pittel with Louisville Symphony: Amram Ode to Lord Buckley (Louisville LS781)
  • Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet: Don’t You Remember The Time (Harojama 9743)
  • Harvey Pittel with London Sinfonietta: Rodby Concerto (Crystal S500)
  • Harvey Pittel with Westwood Wind Quintet – re issued on CD Sextour a vent (Crystal S 353)
  • Harvey Pittel Trio (Crystal S157)
  • Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet (Crystal S155)
  • Harvey Pittel Plays Music for Alto and Soprano Saxophones (Crystal S105)


External links[edit]