Thessaloniki has produced many fine artists. However, very rarely did one see a case like Kosmas Galileas, a uniquely gifted musician who excelled as soloist, concertmaster, and conductor. He was also an inspiring pedagogue, accomplished music administrator, founder of numerous music organizations and a driving force for a plethora of artistic activities.
Kosmas Galileas took his first violin lessons at the age of five at the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki and gave his first recital at the age of seven. Upon graduating, he continued his studies at the Music Academy of Vienna. He then formed the Thessaloniki Trio and was part of various ensembles such as the Northern Greece String Quartet, and the Chamber orchestra of Thessaloniki. At the same time he launched a substantial international solo career with performances that spread around the globe.
In 1969 he was named concertmaster of the Thessaloniki State Orchestra, a position which he held until 1992 when he became the Director.
Being awarded a full scholarship from the Greek Ministry of Culture to further pursue his education, Kosmas received his Master’s Degree in orchestral conducting from Kent State University (1982). During his studies he was asked to join the faculty and taught violin and chamber music as well as conducted the University orchestra. For his outstanding contributions to the University, he was awarded the highest distinction from the American Society of Arts and Sciences “Pi Kappa Lamda.” At the time he also served as concertmaster in other orchestras in the United States such as the Bedford Springs Festival orchestra in Pensilvania.
In 1986, Kosmas Galileas was selected to represent Greece in the World Philharmonic Orchestra in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, under the aton of Lorin Maazel.
From 1965-1986, he served as Professor of Violin at the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki. He was also invited to teach at many international festivals in Greece and abroad. Along with Friedrich Selheim he co-founded the International Music Festival at Porto Karras (1979-1990).
In 1985-1986 he served as Director of the “Synchrono” conservatory of Thessaloniki and in 1989 he founded the Municipal Conservatory of Thessaloniki and served as its Director until his death. He also served at the faculty of the “Neo” conservatory of Thessaloniki (1994-1997), as well as at the music Department of the University of Macedonia.
Kosmas deeply believed in the artistic potential of his home town and pursued its development in every way. In 1987 he founded the Municipal Symphony Orchestra of Thessaloniki. In a very short period of time, the group developed into one of the top in the country. He conducted over 120 concerts in Greece but also abroad.
Kosmas Galileas vigorously supported the young generation of musicians and dedicated much of his life to helping and promoting them. He created the Youth Orchestra of Macedonia which he conducted from 1989-1992. He founded the Music Society of Macedonia (1988), which among various other activities provided scholarships for gifted young musicians.
Kosmas Galileas was a member of numerous committees at various organizations in Thessaloniki such as: The Dimitria International Festival, the State Theatre of Northern Greece, the “Megaron” Concert Hall, and many others.
The impression that one got when meeting Kosmas Galileas was that of a calm and stoic person. However, those who were fortunate enough to know him better could see that there was a tremendously dynamic personality which combined the imposing calmness of artistic maturity with an unsurpassed fighting spirit. Overall, he was an extremely responsible and serious individual with a warm heart, a great sense of humor, and love for life.
Ioannis K. Hasiotis
Professor Emeritus of Modern History Aristotle University of Thessaloniki