Bernard Salles began his musical education at Perpignan Conservatoire, studying organ, composition, conducting and double bass, under the tuition of Gerard Massat. He continued his studies at Versailles Conservatoire, under Jacques Cazauran. In 1976, he obtained his degree with first class honours, as well as his double bass teaching qualification.
In 1977, he became the double bass teacher at Pau Conservatoire, a post which he kept until 2016. From 2000 to 2008, he taught at Musikene (the music school of the Basque Country in San Sebastian, Spain). Alongside his teaching, Bernard was the co-founder of the international double bass summer school in Capbreton, which he ran with the luthier Christian Nogaro between 1991 and 2014. In 2018, he founded the RCR summer camp (Rencontres de la Contrebasse en Roussillon). He is regularly invited to give masterclasses and to participate as a jury member in music schools across Europe (Paris, Geneva, Oslo, Milan, Salamanca etc.).
During the 80s and 90s, he played with major French orchestras: Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, under conductors such as D. Barenboïm, P. Boulez, L. Maazel and Z. Mehta.
As a composer and member of the SACEM (Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music), his repertoire counts over 100 works for orchestra, chamber ensembles and double bass. His teaching books are published by Billaudot in Paris, and his double bass pieces are published by Recital Music in the UK. His arrangement of Carmen for double bass ensemble is known worldwide, and was notably played by the double bass section of La Scala, onstage in the famous Italian opera house.
As a conductor, he was the first musical director of the Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn, from 1996 to 2001. In 2008 he founded the Orchestre Symphonique du Sud-Ouest and in 2017, the Orchestre Symphonique d’Alénya-Roussillon.
Between 1998 and 2000, Bernard recorded 3 CDs on the Gallo label (Switzerland): music for double bass and string quartet, J.S. Bach’s Suites for cello I-V and six chorales. His concerto for double bass was recorded by Bernard Cazauran (principal double bass for the Orchestre de Paris) on the Gallo label. The 4 first books of “Portraits for Friends” for unaccompanied double bass were recorded by Dan Styffe (principal double bass of the Oslo Philharmonic) on the Fabra label, and Dan included the sonata for unaccompanied double bass on his CD “Postcards from Oslo”. David Heyes recorded the sonatina “In Memoriam Frantisek Posta” on his CD “Postcards from Prague.”