Exclusive: Sir James Galway quits IMG

Exclusive: Sir James Galway quits IMG


norman lebrecht

December 15, 2015

The most famous flute player of the past half century has decided, at 75, to change agents.

Jimmy has walked out on IMG, where he has been for half his career, to rejoin ICA’s Stephen Wright, whom he knew at the very start of his solo journey.

A former principal flute in the London orchestras and the Berlin Philharmonic, the Man with the Golden Flute has a full concerts diary and is looking to make three more recordings to reach his century.

Sony recently released a 71-CD box set.

UPDATE: IMG Artists clarify that the change of representation is US only. They have not represented Jimmy anywhere else for several years.





  • Hanna Nahan says:

    Good luck to him! I heard him play 2 months ago. He barely had enough breath to get through a single phrase intact…

    • Oboe Chic says:

      Dear Ms Hanna,
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion of what they may like or dislike at a performance by Sir James or maybe you just wanted to post a negative comment to get a response…Here’s mine!
      I’m sure the majority of concert goers of his live performances, masterclasses and the 30+ million albums purchased over the years would not agree with your comment. Sir James has touched the lives of millions of people around the world over the last 60 years with his musical genius, teaching techniques and incredible artistry and his gift and love of music. Sir James at 76 still has the chops to challenge any musician of any genre. Are you up for the Challenge?
      May Peace, Love and Happiness be with you this Holiday Season.

      • Malcolm james says:

        I heard him do the G major Mozart flute concerto at the Proms a few years ago and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I listened to the repeat on the radio a few days later to convince myself that i wasn’t imagining things and a friend who was in the hall backed me up that Galway had lost it. It’s sad, but like the thread on Dale Clevenger a couple of years ago, it’s proof that no-one can fight Anno domini. Yes, he was a superlative player, but the time has possibly come to bow out with good grace.

        • Stereo says:

          You”re right. There’s a great art in knowing when to pack it in: have you seen and heard Tony Bennet lately?

        • The Incredible Flutist says:

          I’ve also heard Sir James not long ago and he was in top form. It was a concerto performance with with Nashville Symphony and he was absolutely brilliant. Technically flawless, glorious sound, exquisite musicality and magnificent stage presence. I am a prof. flutist myself, I know every note of the works he played and I simply sat back in awe. He is fantastic!

          Every musician has good and bad performances. Young players also can give less than ideal concerts. We don’t tell THEM to hang it up.

          I believe that Sir James recently made a BIG instrument change – like within the past year – going from the gold he’s played most of his career to a state of the art platinum flute.

          This is an enormous adjustment. Although it’s a great choice in the long run, it takes a lot of getting used to. Platinum is heavier, requires more air & is much harder to play than a gold flute. This might explain the comments of the people who didn’t like how he sounded recently. He was probably just getting used to his new instrument. Cut him a break!

          • Malcolm James says:

            The performance I’m referring to was in 2012.

          • The Incredible Flutist says:

            Malcolm, that’s around when I heard him play spectacularly well in Nashville! So he had a good night for my concert and maybe a not so good night when you heard him. He’s human and we’re talking about LIVE music here. If you’re seeking consistent perfection,stay home and listen to an edited recording.

          • Malcolm james says:

            The problem is that as you get older the bad days get more and more frequent.

      • MacroV says:

        Admittedly I haven’t heard him in a long time, and I will say that when I saw him do a masterclass (and a bit of playing) back in 1982, I was absolutely blown away by his playing, his understanding of flute technique, and his knowledge of music in general. He made some really excellent flutists playing in his class sound like amateurs, and my overall reaction was that there was a musician of real substance behind all the hype.

        That said, nobody plays at that level forever, and at 76 it does not demean the great man to suggest he may not play as well as he once did. It’s really hard for wind players, with the required breath control, embouchure, and finger work, to sustain a high level at that age; I don’t know why – as we saw with the Clevenger debate several years ago – that is so difficult a concept for some to accept. To suggest he can hold his own with the best of the current generation – including his Berlin successors Manny Pahud and now Mathieu Dufour, or even his recently-retired one-time Berlin colleague Andreas Blau (who at 66 was still playing GREAT last season) – is to live in some kind of alternate universe.

    • andrea griminelli says:

      Dear Mrs. Hanna Nahan

      Sir James Galway dosen’t need your good luck!! .

      I had the honor to play with Sir James Galway on November 11 2015 and his flute playing was great ,here is a link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qtEA74UFXA
      you can find others pieces of the same concert on youtube

      Andrea Griminelli

    • Giorgio Francesco says:

      Dear Hanna Nahan,
      I´m´sorry, but one single not of this man, who is the greatest flutist on this planet, is more inspiring than everything else.
      There is not just the level of perfection who makes a good concert !

  • Marcato Sempre says:

    That Galway may have known Stephen Wright since “the very start of his solo journey” belies the fact that Galway’s manager for the first 18 years of his solo career was Michael Emmerson, a very creative fellow who built Galway’s unique career literally from scratch.

  • Katy Wherry says:

    Congratulations Sir James Galway! You have been an inspiration to millions and will continue to do so.

  • Amy says:

    Sounds like great news, Sir James! You have been my flute “idol” my entire life and I look forward to hearing you in concert again soon!

  • Ben says:

    It sort of demonstrates how desperate things have got at ICA for them to take on the likes of Galway! Good luck to the junior member of staff who gets lumbered with him!