RTÉ Player’s on-demand Culture collection features an eclectic mix of documentaries and performances from the worlds of Music, Arts, Film & TV and Literature.  

Each week, the RTÉ Player team suggest a ‘must-watch’ from the Culture collection. This week, we look at an intimate and revealing portrait of Sir James Galway, regarded by many as the finest flautist of his generation. Being James Galway charts his remarkable rise to the top of the classical music world from humble beginnings with a Belfast flute band and is given unique access to Galway at home and on tour.

Galway was born in Belfast at the outbreak of the Second World War and established himself performing with the top London orchestras in the 1960s before becoming first flute with the Berlin Philharmonic. In the mid seventies he took the unusual step of leaving to launch a solo career and became a household name with the release of his instrumental version of John Denver’s Annie’s Song in 1978. He has sold more than 30 million albums and at the age of 75 continues to tour the world performing to packed houses and giving master classes to the next generation of world class flute players.

In the programme Galway speaks frankly about his life and career and puts his success down to hard work and daily practice. The documentary captures Galway backstage in rehearsal and performing, and at his home overlooking Lake Lucerne, Switzerland with his wife and fellow flautist, Jeanne.

The programme is narrated by Jeremy Irons, and contributors include broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, Riverdance composer Bill Whelan and the conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin.

Watch Being James Galway now on RTÉ Player.