McKeesport native and venerable pianist Byron Janis celebrates his 80th birthday today. For the occasion, the French consul general is throwing a reception for him in New York City, where the pianist resides, and he is receiving a plaque from the U.S. Senate.
Janis, who has been struggling with arthritis and had his fifth (!) hand surgery in December, has new recordings coming out and is finishing up his memoirs. He also is the subject of a documentary by director Peter Rosen (who did acclaimed films about Rubinstein, Cliburn and the Pittsburgh Symphony's Vatican tour DVD).
All this according to his wife, Maria Cooper Janis (the daughter of actor Gary Cooper. "Byron just keeps on going, he doesn't let it stop him," she said. "He doesn't play what he know he can't handle.