The first volume of Byron Janis on Tour celebrates the 70th anniversary of the celebrated pianist's first recording released by RCA, and is dedicated to his son Stefan. WBAA's John Clare spoke to the 89 year old Janis about the recordings.
Learn more about Byron Janis on Tour here.
Byron Janis made his orchestral debut at age 15 with Toscanini's NBC Symphony Orchestra. The following year he 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 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 first 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 could perform on Cuban soil. His many recordings appear on the RCA, Mercury Phillips and EMI labels. "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 at the Chateau de Thoiry in France). 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.
He’s currently 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.