September 29 2010




PITTSBURGH — He was a child prodigy—a celebrated pianist born and raised in Pittsburgh whose extraordinary talent brought him to perform for world leaders and kings and queens. He captured international acclaim, countless musical awards and accolades. He married the daughter of one of America’s most revered screen stars. He had it all.

Then fate dealt his career a tragic turn and his ability to perform again was nearly torn from his hands—the hands that made music and brought joy and excitement to millions were silenced.

“PREMIERING ON WQED-TV ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28 AT 8PM, WITH ENCORE AIRINGS ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31 AT 5PM AND THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11 AT 8PM, “The Byron Janis Story” is a new documentary about the living legend of the classical music world. A serious injury at age eleven nearly ended his career before it began. Crippling arthritis threatened to cut it short in his prime.

But the story of the man and his music does not stop with the challenges nor did the music stop forever. “The Byron Janis Story” also portrays the man who took his disability and turned it into an inspiration for others. Besides giving back as the national spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation of America and also performing professionally on concert stages worldwide, Janis still gives lectures and performances, teaches master music classes, composes, and writes a regular classical music column for the Wall Street Journal.

The documentary also briefly and tenderly profiles the relationship with his wife, Maria Cooper Janis, daughter of actor Gary Cooper, who not only stood beside him during the challenging times, but also managed to maintain her own career as a gifted and talented painter.

Janis was the first American artist sent to the Soviet Union during the Cold War as part of the U.S/Soviet Cultural Exchange Program and he was the first student of legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz. “The Byron Janis Story” paints a vivid and touching portrait of a musical genius, gifted teacher and sensitive human being.

“The Byron Janis Story” is produced by internationally-acclaimed producer, Peter Rosen, presented by WQED Pittsburgh and distributed nationally through American Public Television (APT).

Click here to watch a trailer from “The Byron Janis Story.”

WQED PITTSBURGH, honored with the 2007 and 2006 Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Award for Station Excellence, was founded in 1954 as the nation’s first community-supported public media services company. WQED creates, produces and distributes quality programs, products and services to engage, inform, educate and entertain the public within its community and around the world. WQED Pittsburgh is one of the first broadcasters in the country to be fully high-definition (HD) in its studio and field production capabilities. It is the parent company of WQED-TV (PBS); WQED: The Neighborhood Channel; WQED: The Create Channel; WQEX-TV (A ShopNBC affiliate); Classical WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; Classical WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive (; and The WQED Education Department.

AMERICAN PUBLIC TELEVISION (APT) has been a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to America’s public television stations since 1961. In 2009, APT distributed 56 of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles. Among its 300 new program titles per year are prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramatic series, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies, including For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots, A Ripple of Hope, Rick Steves' Europe, Newsline, Globe Trekker, Simply Ming, America's Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated, Lidia's Italy, P. Allen Smith's Garden Home, Murdoch Mysteries, Doc Martin, Rosemary and Thyme, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, The Great American Songbook and John Denver: The Wildlife Concert. APT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service. In 2006, APT launched Create™ – the TV channel featuring the best of public television's lifestyle programming. For more information about APT’s programs and services, visit

NOTE: For press information and to schedule interviews, limited public appearances and engagements, please contact Bettina L. Klinger, President, KlingerVision, (212) 592-1385 or email

The Byron Janis Project: Passion, Perseverance and Virtuosity Fact Sheet

he Byron Janis Project: Passion, Perseverance and Virtuosity Fact Sheet 
September 29, 2010

The legendary Byron Janis, internationally renowned as “one of the world’s greatest pianists,” returns to the spotlight.

PBS will air a Peter Rosen documentary The Byron Janis Story starting in October, “dedicated to all those who have overcome adversity.”

Overcomes devastating accident, age 11, to little finger leaving it permanently numb.

Autobiography Chopin and Beyond: My Extraordinary Life in Music and the Paranormal published in November, speaks of a life full of international glamour and triumphs despite adversity.

Chosen by US Government to open first Cultural Exchange US/USSR, 1960.

Painful psoriatic arthritis strikes both hands and wrists, kept secret for 12 years until a White House performance in 1985 when Nancy Reagan announced his becoming a national spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation.

Both instances compel Janis to re-teach himself to play, doctors consider it a miracle.

Amongst countless honors, recently written into Congressional Record honoring him as “musician, diplomat and inspiration.”

Reveals for the first time many spiritual and amazing experiences in the world of the paranormal.

Married to Maria Cooper, a talented painter and daughter of Gary Cooper, has collaborated on TV projects and is a researcher in parapsychology.

NOTE: For press information and to schedule interviews, limited public appearances and engagements, please contact Bettina L. Klinger, President, KlingerVision, (212) 592-1385 or email