“I am personally thrilled and honored to welcome Byron Janis to our worldwide family of Yamaha Artists,” said Bonnie Barrett, Director of Yamaha Artist Services New York. “He is a legend among pianists, a transformational and transcendent artist who continues to inspire new generations of music lovers. We look forward to a very special collaboration, destined to enrich and preserve his unique legacy.”
Mr. Janis’ dual role with Yamaha is a natural outgrowth of his experience. His 1948 debut performance at Carnegie Hall launched his history-making career; however, in 1973 he developed a debilitating case of arthritis in both hands and wrists, with doctors telling him he would never play again. Undaunted, Janis continued touring and recording, all the while championing the cause of others – especially children – who suffer from arthritis.
He was recently drawn to Yamaha following the 2010 introduction of the company’s CFX concert grand piano, the pinnacle of Yamaha’s piano line, representing 19 years of research and development. “The moment I began playing it,” he said, “I could tell that the Yamaha CFX piano had a resonance, purity of tone and an ideal action, unique among pianos. The CFX allows me to play with the utmost artistic expression, nuance and control. It is simply a superb instrument.”
In his capacity as a Yamaha artist, Mr. Janis will perform exclusively on Yamaha pianos. In addition to public and private appearances, Mr. Janis will participate in master classes, lectures, recitals and performances produced by Yamaha Artist Services New York at its Piano Salon in Midtown Manhattan and at partner schools, institutions and venues.
“To have a pianist of this stature join Yamaha affirms the quality of our pianos,” said Bonnie Barrett. “Byron brings a wealth of unparalleled talent to Yamaha in a role that transcends both performance and medicine.”
Ms. Barrett is particularly excited about Mr. Janis’ integral role in the launch of Yamaha Remote Live. This remarkable technology enables a performance played on a Disklavier reproducing piano to be streamed to other Disklaviers anywhere in the world in tandem with a video broadcast, making it ideal for remote master classes and concerts.
Mr. Janis’ unprecedented work in the field of arthritis advocacy complements the work of the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute, which is committed to bridging the gap between music and medicine on the scientific and educational levels.
Byron Janis has served as the National Ambassador to the Arts for the Arthritis Foundation since 1986 and maintains a busy schedule presenting Mind Over Matter workshops for millions who suffer from the disease, encouraging participants to achieve their goals despite the obstacles.
“Byron is an extraordinary inspiration on many levels,” said Barry Bittman, MD, CEO and President of the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute. “I am profoundly moved by his unwavering resolve for inspiring others to move past their barriers. Despite the potentially career-ending diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis, he persevered against the odds and offers myriad personal experiences, insights and perspectives that must be shared.”
Mr. Janis in turn also noted that he is “honored to have been asked to serve as Presidential Advisor to Dr. Barry Bittman and the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute. Research scientifically demonstrates the healing effect that playing a musical instrument has on the brain. The Institute’s research with The Cleveland Clinic promises even more exciting results.”
The first pianist to study with the great Vladimir Horowitz, Janis made his orchestral debut with Toscanini’s NBC Symphony Orchestra at age 15. He began his career as a concert pianist in 1944. In 1960, the United States Department of State chose him to open the first cultural exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union. At that time, The New York Times reported that “if music could replace international politics, Byron Janis could consider himself an ambassador breaking down cold war barriers.” Mr. Janis was invited back by the Soviet Union in 1962, where he had a triumphant seven-week tour. In 1978, he created an acclaimed program on the life of Frederic Chopin, which aired twice, nationally on PBS stations in the United States and in countries around the world.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan honored Mr. Janis at a State Dinner at the White House marking the 40th anniversary of his acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut. Mr. Janis has had the great honor of being written into the Congressional Record of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, honoring him as a musician, a diplomat and an inspiration. He has written an autobiography, Chopin and Beyond: My Extraordinary Life in Music and the Paranormal. A companion DVD entitled The Byron Janis Story, also chronicles his life and is currently airing across the United States on PBS.