Born December 8, 1939, in Belfast, Northern Ireland; son of James (a shipyard riveter) and Ethel Stewart (a textile mill worker; maiden name, Clarke) Galway; first wife's name, Claire; married second wife, Anna Christine Renggli, 1972; third wife's name, Jeanne; children: (first marriage) Patrick; (second marriage) Charlotte and Jennifer (twins). Education: Attended Royal College of Music; studied under Geoffrey Gilbert at Guildhall School of Music; studied under Gaston Crunelle at Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique (Paris). Addresses: Manager and publicist --ICM Artists, 40 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019.
Irish flutist James Galway is a superb interpreter of the classical flute repertoire and a consummate entertainer. His silky tone and masterful technique, charismatic personality, and varied programs appeal to audiences of all ages and musical tastes.
Galway was born on Carnalea Street in a working-class neighborhood of Belfast, Northern Ireland. His father, James, was a shipyard riveter, and his mother Ethel worked as a winder in a spinning mill in West Belfast. The Galways were a musical family: Galway's father played the flute and accordion in local bands and his mother taught herself to play piano. Jimmy's first instruments were a harmonica, an old violin, and a penny whistle, but it wasn't until he picked up a flute at about age nine that he seriously began to practice. He took informal lessons from his father and paternal grandfather and learned to read music from the leader of a local flute band. When he was ten years old he entered three solo competitions in the Irish Flute Championships and won them all.
While a student at the Mountcollyer Secondary Modern School, Galway came to the attention of Douglas and Muriel Dawn, who set him on the path to a musical career. A flutist with the BBC Northern Ireland Symphony Orchestra, Muriel gave Galway lessons in the rudiments of flute playing. Douglas found him a job as an apprentice piano tuner, arranged for him to perform with the Belfast orchestras, and was instrumental in the Belfast Education Committee's awarding the young flutist with a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music in London. For three years Galway studied with renowned flutist John Francis before transferring to the Guildhall School of Music to study under Geoffrey Gilbert, whom Galway cites as one of the most important technical influences in his life. In the early 1960s Galway attended the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique in Paris, where he studied with Gaston Crunelle, who also taught Jean-Pierre Rampal. Galway never completed a degree, however, because he failed to attend classes peripheral to his interests.
Upon his return to London, Galway played flute and piccolo in several orchestras: Sadler's Wells Opera Orchestra, the Royal Opera House Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). In the late 1960s, while on a tour of the United States with the LSO, Galway met and took some lessons with the celebrated French flutist Marcel Moyse, who was then living in Vermont. His lessons with Moyse inspired Galway to strive for greater artistry--particularly a greater variety of tone colors--in his playing.
Galway left the LSO to join the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 1969 he became principal flutist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under the world renowned conductor Herbert von Karajan. As Galway had for a long time been unsatisfied with orchestral performing, and even working with such a celebrated orchestra and conductor did not fulfill his need to express himself more fully, he began to accept extra-orchestral engagements. Michael Emmerson, a talent scout who has since become involved in managing RCA Red Label records, spotted Galway and offered to manage his solo career. In the summer of 1975, with Emmerson's encouragement, Galway struck out on his own. In his first year as a solo performer, Galway taught flute for a semester at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, toured widely, and made four records. By the end of that year it was obvious to everyone that Galway had found his niche.
Since then Galway has become one of the most popular soloists on the international music scene. He tours widely to enthusiastic crowds that include flute students, flutists, and amateurs of classical and popular music alike. Galway programs concerts with particular audiences in mind and performs on any one of nineteen handmade gold flutes, which have become his trademark, and a penny whistle. Not hesitant to talk to audiences or appear in the media, Galway's lilting brogue, twinkling eyes, and quick wit are known to many who have seen him on "Live From Lincoln Centre," "Sesame Street," talk shows, or credit card commercials.
Galway's lengthy discography includes most of the masterpieces of the flute repertoire as well as forays into country, folk, jazz, and modern popular music. His more than 30 RCA Victor recordings are bestsellers--he has one platinum and several gold albums to his credit--and his hit records with John Denver, Cleo Laine, and Henry Mancini have made him one of the most successful crossover artists of our time.
Ever attentive to the quality of his recorded works, Galway has refused to release albums that did not entirely satisfy him. His recording of the Mozart concertos, which won the Grand Prix du Disque, attests to his concern for quality. Although critics sometimes decry Galway's recording of popular tunes, Galway cites a famous precedent. "My own model is [violinist] Jascha Heifetz," he told Bob Porter in the Dallas Times Herald. "He recorded everything from Bach to 'Ave Maria.' He was the biggest influence on what I have done with my life."
Since the flute repertoire is limited, Galway has transcribed pieces originally composed for other instruments, such as Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and commissioned new pieces by composers Joaquin Rodrigo and John Corigliano, among others.
The lifestyle of a celebrity on tour takes its toll. Galway had become known as a serious carouser, and after he underwent a crisis of conscience in 1987, he adopted a stricter lifestyle, checking into a health farm to lose weight. He also returned to a more regular practice regimen and decided to cut short his fledgling conducting career as too time-consuming. In 1989--after a twelve-year hiatus--he resumed teaching. He teaches in his home in Lucerne, Switzerland, and conducts masters classes in the cities where he performs. Galway is also co-authoring a book on flute performance and technique with Australian flutist and writer Andrew Richardson. What advice does Galway give his students? "Practice all the time, just non-stop practice, and listen to other people in the same business; establish where you're at, where you're going and what you're going to do about it," he told Patricia Harty of Irish America Magazine.
While married to his third wife, Jeanne, Galway released the song "Winds of Song" in 2004 on the Deutsche Gramophone label. He also performed on several tracks from the soundtrack for The Lord of the RIngs: The Return of the King in 2003.
by Jeanne M. Lesinski
James Galway's Career
Worked as an apprentice piano tuner; played with the Wind Band of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon; played flute and piccolo in Sadler's Wells Opera Orchestra, 1961-66, and the Royal Opera House Orchestra, 1965; played piccolo in the BBC Symphony Orchestra; principal flutist with the London Symphony Orchestra, 1966-67; with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, 1967-69; principal solo flute with Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, 1969-75; soloist, 1976--; has appeared as a guest performer on numerous recordings and television programs; teacher of music, 1976-77, and 1989--; conductor, c. 1999--.
James Galway's Awards
Order of the British Empire, 1979; received Grand Prix du Disque for his recording of Mozart concertos; presented record of the year awards from both Billboard and Cashbox magazines; musician of the year, Musical America, 1997; Knighthood, 2001; President's merit award, Recording Academy, 2004; outstanding contribution to classical music, Classic Brits Awards, 2005.
- Released by RCA on Victor Red Seal
- "Annie's Song" and Other Favorites.
- Bach Trio Sonatas.
- Clair de Lune--The Music of Debussy.
- The Classical James Galway.
- Corigliano: Pied Piper Fantasy.
- French Flute Concertos by Ibert, Chaminade, Poulenc, Faure, Charles Dutoit.
- James Galway and the Chieftans in Ireland.
- James Galway: Greatest Hits.
- James Galway Plays Bach Flute Concertos--Concerto in A Minor, Concerto in E Minor, Suite No. 2 in B Minor.
- James Galway Plays Mozart Concerto in C for Flute and Harp, Concerto in G.
- James Galway Plays Schubert.
- James Galway's Christmas Carol.
- (With various artists) James Galway's "Music in Time." Italian Serenade Works for Flute and Guitar.
- The Magic Flute of James Galway.
- Man with the Golden Flute.
- Mozart: Concerto No. 1 in G, Concerto No. 2 in D, Andante in C.
- Mozart: The Two Flute Concertos.
- The Pachelbel Canon and Others.
- (With Cleo Laine) Sometimes When We Touch.
- Sonatas for Flute and Piano.
- "Song of the Seashore" and Other Melodies of Japan.
- Telemann: Flute Concertos, Suite in A Minor, Concerto in G.
- Concerto in C.
- Vivaldi: The Four Seasons.
- James Galway: An Autobiography enlarged edition, Chivers, 1980.
- Flute London, 1982.
- Galway, James, Autobiography, enlarged edition, Chivers, 1980.
- Baltimore Sun, March 18, 1987.
- Bloomington Herald-Telephone, March 6, 1987.
- Boston Herald, July 3, 1987.
- Chicago Sun Times, April 23, 1989.
- Dallas Times Herald, July 8, 1988.
- Detroit Free Press, March 27, 1987.
- Flute Talk, April 1989.
- Gannett Westchester Newspapers, July 17, 1988.
- Irish America Magazine, September 1986.
- Music Magazine, February/March 1989.
- New York Times, July 16, 1988.
- Ovation, June 1987.
- Portland Press Herald, March 15, 1987.
- Raleigh News and Observer, April 2, 1989.