Yanni ( /ˈjɑːni/ yah-nee)
is a Greek self-taught pianist, keyboardist, composer, and music producer (born Yiannis Hryssomallis; Greek: Γιάννης Χρυσομάλλης, Giannis Chrysomallis; November 14, 1954) who has spent his adult life in the United States.
A self-taught musician who continues to use the musical shorthand that he developed as a child,Yanni has blended jazz, classical, soft rock, and world music to create predominantly instrumental works.As this genre of music was not well suited for commercial pop radio and music television,Yanni achieved international recognition by producing concerts at historic monuments and by producing videos that were broadcast on public television.His breakthrough concert, Yanni Live at the Acropolis, yielded the second best-selling music video of all time.Additional historic sites for Yanni's concerts have included India's Taj Mahal, China's Forbidden City, the United Arab Emirates' Burj Khalifa,Russia's Kremlin,and Puerto Rico's El Morro castle.
At least fourteen of Yanni's albums have peaked at #1 in Billboard's "Top New Age Album" category,and two albums (Dare to Dream and In My Time) received Grammy nominations. Through late 2011, Yanni had performed live in concert before more than two million people in more than 20 countries around the world, and has accumulated more than 35 platinum and gold albums globally, with sales totaling over 20 million copies.A longtime fundraiser for public television,Yanni's compositions have been used on commercial television programs, especially for sporting events such as the Tour de France, World Figure Skating Championships, U. S. Open Tennis Championships and Olympic Games.He has written film scores and the music for an award-winning British Airways television commercial.
Yanni has employed musicians of various nationalities, and has incorporated a variety of instruments from around the world, to create music that has been called an eclectic fusion of ethnic sounds.Influenced by his encounters with cultures around the world,his music is said to reflect his “one world, one people” philosophy
Yanni displayed musical talent at a young age, playing piano at the age of 6. His parents encouraged him to learn at his own pace and in his own way, without formal music training.The self-taught musician continues to use the "musical shorthand" that he developed as a child, rather than employing traditional musical notation.
Yanni set a Greek national record in the 50-meter freestyle swimming competition at age 14.
In 1972, Yanni moved from Greece to the United States to attend the University of Minnesota,receiving a B.A. degree in psychology in 1976. During his time as a student, Yanni played in a local rock band and continued to study piano and other keyboard instruments.
Yanni joined the Minneapolis-based rock group Chameleon, working with its founder, drummer Charlie Adams.After leaving the band, Yanni moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of movie soundtrack work.
1980s to early 1990s: Emergence and recognition
In 1980 Yanni recorded his first album Optimystique, which Atlantic Records re-released in 1984 and Private Music re-released in 1989.
Yanni formed a band in 1987 and began to tour in 1988, when he went on the road with an ensemble including pianist/singer John Tesh and drummer Charlie Adams, touring to promote his early albums, Keys to Imagination, Out of Silence, and Chameleon Days. A highlight of the tour was a performance with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra that elicited a positive review, considered seminal to Yanni's public recognition, from a Dallas Times Herald critic.Yanni's emergence was said to be "timed perfectly" with the growing popularity of contemporary instrumental music.
Yanni gained visibility as the result of his November 1990 appearances in People and on The Oprah Winfrey Show with actress Linda Evans,with whom he had been in a relationship since 1989.However, high visibility appearances on public television, best-selling records and videos, and overflow concerts earned him recognition beyond his relationship with Evans.
Dare to Dream, released in 1992, was Yanni’s first Grammy-nominated album. It included "Aria," a song based on Léo Delibes' The Flower Duet (Lakmé, 1883) and popularized by an award-winning British Airways commercial. A second Grammy-nominated album, In My Time, followed in 1993.
1990s: Acropolis, world fame, exhaustion and renewal
From Yanni Live at the Acropolis (1994):
"Acroyali/Standing in Motion"
This composition was determined to have the "Mozart Effect."
Santorini, the name of a Greek island and the name Yanni gave in 2011 to his symbolically adopted panda cub,is a song included in primary school teachings throughout China.
At the 1993 Acropolis concert, Yanni dedicated "Nostalgia" to the people of his homeland Greece, where he had not lived since 1972.
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