Byron Janis, Legendary Concert Pianist and Yamaha Artist, Celebrates His 88th Birthday with Tributes Throughout the Year. First Stop: PITTSBURGH
New York, New York (April 11, 2016) – Byron Janis, renowned as one of the world’s greatest concert pianists, is celebrating his 88th birthday this year with special gatherings and tributes that will be announced within the coming weeks. In China, the number eighty-eight conveys good fortune. For ham radio operators, “88” is shorthand for hugs and kisses. There are 88 constellations in the sky. But for Byron Janis, it hits closer to home as March 24, 2016 marked his 88th birthday. With one more significant tie, there are eighty-eight keys on the piano, which comes an infinite amount of musical possibilities. A number worth celebrating for years to come for this virtuoso, indeed. The upcoming announcements will include performances, conversations, inspiring stories and memories of his epic career.
On May 1st, Mr. Janis will begin a series of events in his native town of Pittsburgh. On May 2nd, this living legend whose insatiable passion for the great American past time of Baseball will throw out an honorary first pitch at the Pirate/Cubs game, long legendary rivals. It was these two teams that inspired Mr. Janis’ passion when his first piano teacher took him to his first game ever as a young boy and the cubs were the very same rivals then. He will be a guest live in the studio and perform a few of his own compositions with a singer during the WQED-FM Morning Show weekday mornings from 6-10 AM hosted by WQED-FM’s Artistic Director and long time friend Jim Cunningham. Then later in the week Mr. Janis will host a master class which will take place in Kresge Theater, College of Fine Arts, at Carnegie Mellon University, on Thursday, May 5th, at 12 Noon. Sergey Schepkin, Associate Professor of Piano, Carnegie Mellon University Faculty, School of Preparatory and Continuing Education, New England Conservatory Emerson Instructor MIT, has worked with Mr. Janis to select three outstanding students to work with Mr. Janis and play works by Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms. More events and accolades while in Pittsburgh are to be announced over the next several weeks.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that at the age of 4, Janis was considered a child prodigy. However, the span of his career is legendary as a virtuosic pianist. By any measure, Byron Janis has had an extraordinary musical career. His discovery twice of two long-lost Chopin scores in different versions made headlines around the world, and he has been honored many times for his breathtaking performances of some of the most exciting and challenging works in the standard classical piano repertoire. Over the years his career has been peppered by some of the finest classical music accolades and awards in the world, as well as living and performing with the challenges of Psoriatic Arthritis.
About Byron Janis
Byron Janis is internationally renowned as one of the world’s greatest pianists. He made his orchestral debut at age 15 with Toscanini’s NBC Symphony Orchestra and the following year was chosen by Vladimir Horowitz as his first student. At 18, he became the youngest artist ever signed to a contract by RCA Victor Records. Two years later, in 1948, he made his Carnegie Hall debut which was hailed as an unparalleled success. He has played with every major symphony orchestra in both the U.S and abroad.
Mr. Janis was the first American artist chosen to participate in the 1960 Cultural Exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union and was hailed on the front page of The New York Times as, “an ambassador in breaking down ‘cold war’ barriers.” He was also the first American concert pianist to be asked back to Cuba, 40 years after his last performance there, during which time no American was allowed to perform on Cuban soil.
His many recordings appear on the RCA, Mercury Phillips and EMI labels. In the Spring of 2012, EMI released a Byron Janis “Chopin Collection,” a compilation of his Chopin recordings featuring, for the first time on one CD, two unknown Chopin waltz manuscripts which he discovered at Yale University (the other two versions he discovered in France).
In 1973, he developed Psoriatic Arthritis in both hands and wrists yet he continued his performing career and made two highly acclaimed CDs. He kept it secret until 1985 when, after a performance at the White House, Nancy Reagan made his condition public when she announced that he would become a spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation as its National Ambassador to the Arts.
Among his honors are: Commander of the French Legion d’Honneur for Arts and Letters, the Grand Prix du Disque, the Stanford Fellowship (the highest honor of Yale University) and the Distinguished Pennsylvania Artist Award. He received an honorary doctorate at Trinity College and the gold medal from the French Society for the Encouragement of Progress, the first musician to receive this honor since its inception in 1906. Mr. Janis also has had the great honor of being invited six times by four sitting President’s to perform at the White House and was recently written into the Congressional Record of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, honoring him as, “a musician, a diplomat and an inspiration.”
Mr. Janis has been featured many times on major television interview and talk programs such as The Tonight Show, 20/20 and CBS Sunday Morning, amongst many others. In recent years, he has been concentrating on writing music for stage and screen and has composed the score for a major musical production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” He has also written the score for The True Gen, a feature documentary on the 20-year friendship between Gary Cooper and Ernest Hemingway.
He is featured in the PBS documentary, by Emmy-award-winning producer Peter Rosen, “The Byron Janis Story” which attests to the courage he has displayed in refusing to become overwhelmed by a disease that would have brought the career of most other artists to a standstill. His memoirs, Chopin and Beyond: My Extraordinary Life in Music and the Paranormal were released in November 2010.
In November of 2011, Mr. Janis became a Yamaha artist and launched the unprecedented new technology of Yamaha’s Disklavier CFX Piano. He has also been appointed as the first Presidential Advisor to the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute.
He is married to Maria Cooper, daughter of Hollywood legend Gary Cooper, and he has a son, Stefan.
For press information and to schedule interviews, limited public appearances and engagements, please contactBettina Klinger, 917-930-8654 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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