Famous American Classical Pianist Byron Janis Dies at 95 After Overcoming Arthritis                                      

The late American concert pianist and composer Byron Janis crossed barriers as a Cold War culture ambassador and survived debilitating arthritis that nearly destroyed him of his playing ability. He was 95.

Maria Cooper Janis, his wife, said Janis died Thursday night in a New York City hospital. She called her husband “an exceptional human being who took his talents to their highest pinnacle.”

Janis, a youthful prodigy who studied under Vladimir Horowitz, became one of the most acclaimed American pianists of the late 1940s.

He was the first musician to travel the Soviet Union as part of a State Department cultural exchange initiative in 1960. His Chopin and Mozart recitals wowed Russian listeners and broke "the musical iron curtain,"

Seven years later, Janis found two long-lost Chopin pieces in a trunk of old clothes while visiting a friend in France. After performing the waltzes often for years, he released a critically acclaimed anthology.

His 80-year career was marred by physical hardship, including a childhood accident that left his left pinky permanently paralyzed and convinced physicians he would never play again.

His adult setback was worse. He was diagnosed with severe hand and wrist psoriatic arthritis aged 45. Janis hid the disease for over a decade, playing through agonizing discomfort.

He had many operations and hampered his career. He resumed playing after adjusting his technique to relieve pressure on his swelling fingers.Late her life, Janis composed scores for TV shows and musicals and released unreleased live performances. Cooper Janis, his wife, said he made music till his death.

“Despite adverse physical challenges throughout his career, he overcame them and it did not diminish his artistry,” she said. Byron's passion for music, not popularity, shaped every day of his 95-year life.

stay turned for development