The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Famed pianist Byron Janis reached out for Chopin. Did Chopin return the favor from beyond the grave? | August 28, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

Recently, The Ear posted a story by pianist Jeremy Denk that, to his mind, did the best job ever of explaining why the music of Frederic Chopin appeals so universally.

Here is a link:

Then more recently The Ear heard another story that involved the famed pianist Byron Janis (below), who studied with Vladimir Horowitz when he was a teenager.

He then went on to a spectacular virtuosic career before his hands were partially crippled by severe psoriatic arthritis. (You can hear him play less virtuosic music very poetically in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Through his piano playing and his library searches, Janis has reached out to Chopin, with some impressive results, including discovering lost manuscripts of famous waltzes.

But more surprising is Janis’ claim that, through a death mask, Chopin has returned the favor from beyond the grave and reached out to him in a paranormal or supernatural way.

The story was broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR). It aired on the Saturday version of Weekend Edition with Scott Simon, and then was posted on the blog Deceptive Cadence.

Here is a link:

What do you think?

Do you believe Byron Janis’ story and explanation?

What do you think of his Chopin playing?

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. Mr. Janus believes that it happened. It is a touching story whether you believe it or not. I like to think that there are still some mysteries in this world. Chopin’s music holds a special place in my heart, and in the hearts of many others as well.

    Comment by tom — August 28, 2017 @ 8:27 am

  2. No, none of that happened, obviously. Do people actually believe this? I am so often shocked at what adults will believe.

    I love Chopin, and I enjoyed Janis’s performance.

    Comment by ivy — August 28, 2017 @ 8:14 am

  3. Bunkum. Ghostly PR.

    Chopin is very good but I would say that in general Claude Debussy is even better (not only on the piano).

    Comment by FFlambeau — August 28, 2017 @ 4:38 am

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