Episode 36: Byron's Accidental Waltz

Waltz in G-flat, Op. 70, No. 1

rc-janis-200“There is some kind of connection. I don’t know what it is, but I felt it as a very young boy.” (Byron Janis on Chopin)

Pianist Byron Janis has always had a particular – and peculiar – relationship with Fryderyk Chopin. The first time he visited Nohant, the famous French summer palace shared by Chopin and Georges Sand, he unexpectedly met – and played for – the novelist’s granddaughter. Members of the Chopin family have attended his recording sessions. And quite by accident he discovered works written in Chopin’s own hand.

Janis relates, "This family, an old French family invited me to lunch.' Would you like to see our archive room?' 'Oh I’d love to.' Well, there were things all over the floor. It was a mess…Then, I saw something stick out a bit and it looked like a manuscript. So I gently pulled this out and saw it was two manuscripts tied together with a blue ribbon. I said, 'Oh, what is this?' And I saw what it was immediately. And he said…my grandmother…and I said no, no, this is not your grandmother, this is Chopin."

Chopin it was. Front Page News. But for Byron Janis, lightning struck TWICE:

"Six years later I go to Yale and before leaving, there were shelves…and they said would you like to see? I said, Ooo, what’s that? Just like that. So they climbed up a ladder and brought down a folder. Oh, it’s marked Chopin. So I was sitting down, and I opened this folder…the same two waltzes. This is impossible! Yale had not catalogued them. They knew they had them but they didn’t know…Somehow, I was the one to find them." - Benjamin K. Roe

Radio Chopin Episode 36: Byron's Accidental Waltz

Waltz in G-flat, Op. 70, No. 1