Byron Janis, was born Byron Yanks in 1928 making him 85-years old. He is a famed classical pianist now living in New York City.
He made several recordings for RCA Victor and Mercury Records. His discography covers repertoires from Beethoven to David W. Guion and includes major piano concertos from Mozart to Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev.
He received many of the most prestigious honors and awards, which had never been given to an American. Some of them the Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur and Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres (France’s highest decorations), the Grand Prix du Disque and Cannes Classical Award (both for his Mercury Records recording of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 accompanied by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra under Kirill Kondrashin), and the Harriet Cohen International Music Award and Beethoven Medal (for his performance of Beethoven sonatas).
He was honored by several United States. Presidents and in 1984, at a State Dinner at the White House in his honor at the invitation of President Ronald Reagan, he revealed that he had been suffering from severe psoriatic arthritis since 1973 when he was 45 years old. He chose to conceal his diagnosis so that he could continue playing the piano. Both of his hands and wrists were affected. His doctor implied that he would be threatening his health if he continued to play the piano. Each performance that followed was very painful, but Janis' love of music gave him the impetus to keep playing.
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that will develop in up to 30 percent of people who have the chronic skin condition psoriasis.
The painful and crippling autoimmune condition eventually required surgery on his hands. However, he recovered enough in spite of what the doctors told him; resumed performing and recording commercially and continues to do so today.
He now gives special performances throughout the world and special workshops for children with arthritis. In addition he has taken on the work of making a DVD documentary "The Byron Janis Story,” a book "Chopin and Beyond - My Extraordinary Life in Music and the Paranormal" and an album "Byron Janis - Live from Leningrad" 25% of the proceeds from these go to the Arthritis Foundation.
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