Robert Saxton was born in London in 1953 and started composing at the age of six. Guidance in early years from Benjamin Britten and Elisabeth Lutyens was followed by periods of study at both Cambridge and Oxford Universities with Robin Holloway and Robert Sherlaw Johnson respectively, and also with Luciano Berio. He won the Gaudeamus International Composers prize in Holland at the age of twenty one. In 1986 he was awarded the Fulbright Arts Fellowship to the USA, where he was in residence at Princeton and was assistant to Oliver Knussen at Tanglewood. In 1995 he co-directed the composers' course on Hoy, with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. He has directed the composers' course at Dartington International Summer School on several occasions and was artistic director of Opera Lab. He has also been a regular member of the BBC TV 4 Proms broadcasting commentary team, and was a member of the South Bank Centre board for nine years.
Robert Saxton has written for the BBC (TV, Proms and Radio), as well as for ensembles including the London Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Nash Ensemble, Chilingirian String Quartet and St Paul Chamber Orchestra (USA). His music has been featured at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (with Opera North), as well as the Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, City of London, Three Choirs and Lichfield Festivals. He has worked with performers including Stephen Darlington and the choir of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, Susan Milan, Susan Bradshaw and Richard Rodney Bennett, Edward Wickham and The Clerks' Group, Teresa Cahill, Leon Fleisher, Steven Isserlis and Mstislav Rostropovich. Current works include a piece for the Arditti String Quartet commissioned by the South Bank Centre, London and a song cycle for the 2012 Oxford Lieder Festival.
Robert Saxton was Head of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (1991-97) and Head of Composition and Contemporary Music at the Royal Academy of Music from 1998-99. He is currently Professor of Composition and Tutorial Fellow in Music at Worcester College at the University of Oxford and is a Trustee of the Mendelssohn/Boise Foundation. He became a DMus at Oxford in 1992. His music from 1972 until 1998 was published by Chester/Music Sales and, since then, by the University of York Music Press and Ricordi. Recordings have appeared on Sony Classical, Hyperion, Metier, Divine Art, EMI and NMC.
He is married to the soprano, Teresa Cahill.