Pianist Byron Janis, turning 88 with yearlong celebration and upcoming Scorsese biopic

Posted on: April 28, 2016

“Leave it to a pianist to celebrate his 88th birthday—one year for every key on a piano,” writes Elizabeth Bloom in Sunday’s (4/24) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pianist Byron Janis, who turned 88 in March, “will return to Pittsburgh next weekend … The McKeesport-born musician will throw out the first pitch at the May 2 Pirates game at PNC Park, give masterclasses at Carnegie Mellon University, play live on WQED-FM and probably add a story or two to his deep well of anecdotes…. He performed in Cuba the night before Fidel Castro came to power and … first performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony when he was a teenager…. Mr. Janis will be the subject of a biopic produced by Martin Scorsese and developed by Paramount, Variety reported in January…. He developed psoriatic arthritis at the peak of his career, but he managed to hide it for 12 years by changing his fingerings.” At his first concert in Moscow during a 1960 U.S. tour, Janis recalls, “ ‘I walked out on stage—no applause. Full house, no applause.’ Then, the crowd started chanting ‘U-2,’ referring to an American spy plane shot down in Soviet airspace…. Audience members were weeping at the end of the concert, he said.”

Posted April 28, 2016