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 will release 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 1986 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 on a PBS documentary, now being aired nationally, by Emmy-award-winning producer Peter Rosen. "The Byron Janis Story" 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. 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 Gary Cooper, and they have a son, Stefan.