Sir James Galway Biography

Sir James Galway Biography

About Sir James Galway

Sir James Galway is regarded as a living legend of the flute. He has made himself a modern musical master whose virtuosity on the flute is equaled only by his limitless ambitions and vision. Through his extensive touring, over 30 million albums sold and his frequent international television appearances, Sir James has endeared himself to millions worldwide and is a tireless promoter of the arts.

Belfast born, Sir James studied in London and Paris before embarking on his orchestral career in such prestigious orchestras such as the Sadlers Wells & Royal Covent Garden Operas, The BBC, Royal Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra, before taking up the coveted position of solo flautist with the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan.

Since launching his successful career as a soloist in 1975, his busy touring schedule sees him performing with the world’s leading orchestras and most prestigious conductors. Alongside his busy performing schedule he makes time to share his wisdom and experience with the young through the 10 day Galway Flute Festival he holds each year with his wife in Switzerland. Through these, and the numerous other classes they hold worldwide throughout the year, they are able to have a hands on mentoring to the students they meet throughout their work.

A discography of over 65 CD’s with BMG Sony Classics and Deutsche Grammophon ranging from the great classics such as Mozart & Bach, his performing on the sound track of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and his recording of O’Reilly Street with the Cuban timba group, Tiempo Libre, reflects his mastery of musical diversity. Sir James also commissions new works for the flute, publishing articles, flute studies and books (his latest autobiography, entitled The Man with the Golden Flute, a Celtic Minstrel, was published by John Wiley & Son).

Sir James has played for such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth II, Pope John Paul II, President Clinton, President George W. Bush, President George H.W. Bush, President Mary McAleese, President Michael D.

He also devotes much of his free time supporting charitable organizations such as SOS, FARA, Future Talent, Youth Music (UK), The Caron Keating Foundation, Lorin Maazel’s Châteauxville Foundation, Shimon Peres Peace Center educational project and UNICEF, with which he holds the title of special representative.

Among the many honors and awards for his musical achievements are: the Grammy President’s Merit Award; Classic Brits Lifetime Achievement Award; The Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame; The National Concert Hall Dublin Lifetime Achievement Award, and numerous gold and platinum CD’s. In December 2009, Sir James was awarded the honor of being made the first Artist Laureate of the Ulster Orchestra. He has been honored twice by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with The OBE in 1979 and again in 2001 with a Knighthood for his services to music.

Sir James lives with his wife and family in Switzerland and currently plays on the 20K Galway Nagahara Flute (especially commissioned for him).

Further Reading

  1. “Sir James Galway Bio 2013-14.” Sir James Galway. Web. 9 May 2015. <>.