He is a flautist and conductor born in Belfast,
Northern Ireland, and nicknamed “The Man With the Golden Flute” because
that’s what he plays.
He studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall
School of Music in London. He
later went to France to take further studies at the Paris Conservatoire,
where one of his teachers was Jean-Pierre Rampal, and took private lessons
with Marcel Moyse.
After entering into a career as a fulltime musician in
the 1950s he performed with the Philharmonia Orchestra followed by the
London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House at Covent
Garden, the Royal Philharmonic and the Sadler’s Well Opera.
In the late 1960s he went for an audition with the
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and in 1969 he found himself joining them as
a member under the conductorship of Herbert von Karajan. After 6 years and some discord he
decided to concentrate on his career as a solo musician and settled in
This would prove a wise move as he began receiving
commissions by acclaimed contemporary composers such as David Amram,
Malcolm Arnold, William Bolcom, John Corigliano and Joaquin Rodrigo among
many others. He also performed
with many of the top acts in popular music such as Ray Charles, Elton John,
Henry Mancini, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder and appeared at the Berlin
Wall concert with Pink Floyd.
He became a popular personality on the television and
his fame as a virtuoso flautist spread throughout the world. In 1978 he topped the UK chart with
his version of John Denver’s “Annie’s Song”. And entered the UK album
charts in 1987 with The Chieftains on their collaborative effort In
Ireland. More recently he
was a performer on Howard Shore’s Oscar winning soundtrack of Lord of
the Rings. Towards the end
of the 2000s he had already sold more than 30 million copies of his albums
and Sony released James Galway Celebrates 70 in honour of his
birthday in 2009.
The albums he appears on are countless but a few of
them include his own James Galway: Man With the Golden Flute, Song of
the Seashore and Other Melodies of Japan, Pachelbel Canon & Other
Favourites, James Galway’s Christmas Carol, Serenade, Dances for Flute,
Wind Beneath My Wings, Galway at the Movies, Tango del Fuego and Galway:
Seasons along with Noel by Canadian Brass, Celtic Spectacular
by Erich Kunzel & The Cincinatti Pops, Beautiful Thing by Cleo
Laine, Long Goodbye: Symphonic Music of Procol Harum by Procol Harum,
Heart of the Matter by Kenny Rogers, Mozart: Flute Quartets
with the Tokyo String Quartet,
Nowadays he can be seen performing as Principal Guest
Conductor for the London Mozart Players and often tours with his third wife
Jeanne, who is also a flautist.
Together they also give flute masterclasses at their International
Flute School in Switzerland.
He also holds the office of president for the
charitable concern Flutewise, is a National Patron of the music fraternity
Delta Omicron and is a co-founder of the Music Education Consortium, which
concentrates on promoting music education in British schools. He is also involved as a patron
with the Nystagmus Network that provides support for people with that eye
condition, which he also suffers from.
As an author he has published his autobiography and
the books Flute and Jame’s Galway’s Music in Time.
Recognised for his contribution to music he was
awarded with an OBE in 1977 and given a knighthood in 2001. He was presented with the
President’s Merit Award by the Recording Academy in 2004, received the
“Outstanding Contribution to Classical Music” Award at the Classical Brit
Awards and was inducted in the Hollywood Bowl of Fame in June 2008.
James Galway Recordings
Belfast Hornpipe (Traditional)
RCA 09026-60917 (CD: Dances For Flute)