The distinguished Italian conductor and composer, Alceo Galliera, was the son of Arnaldo Galliera (1871-1934), a composer and professor of organ composition at the Parma Conservatory, who taught his son the rudiments of music before Alceo entered the Milan Conservatory. Here Alceo studied piano, organ and composition, and was made a lecturer in organ and organ composition in 1932.
Alceo Gallieraís first professional appearance as a conductor came in 1941, with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Having settled in Switzerland during the latter part of World War II, Galliera conducted at the Lucerne Festival in 1945 and then (after World War II) pursued the career of a guest conductor with appearances in Europe, England, South Africa, South and North America, Israel and Australia. During the years 1950 and 1951 he held the post of Music Director (resident conductor) of the Victorian Symphony Orchestra in Melbourne (today known as Melbourne Symphony Orchestra). He went on to hold two further permanent appointments, as conductor at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa from 1957 to 1960, and as Chief Conductor of the Strasbourg Municipal Orchestra (Strasbourg Philharmonic) from 1964 to 1971 (or 1972). Among the orchestras he conducted were those of Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. He conducted operas in which Maria Callas sang, as well as concerts with such great pianists as Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and Dinu Lipatti. He also appeared at the Lucerne Festival where he conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Salzburg Festival with the Wiener Philharmoniker.
Throughout the 1950ís and to a lesser degree during the 1960ís, Alceo Galliera recorded extensively for Walter Legge, conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra in operatic and concerto recordings, as well as in several purely orchestral works. His reputation was that of a disciplinarian, and Legge valued him as an orchestral trainer who could be relied upon to maintain and even to improve the standards of his Philharmonia Orchestra. Among the numerous concerto recordings which he conducted were performances with Géza Anda, Claudio Arrau, Pierre Fournier, Walter Gieseking, Leon Goossens, Werner Haas, Ingrid Haebler, Clara Haskil, Dinu Lipatti, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, David Oistrakh, and Artur Schnabel. His purely orchestral recordings included straightforward and musical accounts of symphonies by Mozart, L.v. Beethoven, Borodin and Dvořák. Gallieraís name remains before the public most notably through his conducting of Maria Callasís complete studio recording of Rossiniís Il barbiere di Siviglia, produced by Walter Legge, with Tito Gobbi in the title role. He also conducted recorded recitals by Anna Moffo and Mattiwilda Dobbs, and led the Philharmonia Orchestra for Dennis Brain's celebrated recording of Strauss' first horn concerto.
Alceo Galliera wrote the ballet Le vergini savie e le vergini folli (The Wise and Foolish Virgins) of 1942, orchestral pieces, chamber music, and songs. His compositions include also Scherzo-Tarantella. As a composer, Galliera exhibited a by-no-means negligible talent, though his orchestral works have been infrequently heard following his retirement.