Yanni, the romantic Greek composer
Yanni or Yannis Chryssomallis is a popular keyboardist and Greek composer, born on November 14, 1954 and raised in Kalamata, Greece.
Yanni is one of the greatest representatives of Greek music abroad, being one of the most well known and recognized composers in the world.
Yanni – the early years
Yanni followed other paths before music became his primary focus. At age 14, he broke a national swimming record in Greece, and even dreamed of becoming an Olympic swimmer. He went to the United States in 1972 and attended the University of Minnesota, earning a B.A. in psychology.
During his college years, Yanni was the keyboardist for a Minneapolis-based rock band called the Chameleon, where he met drummer Charlie Adams, who would later become one of the main members of his group. Yanni managed to earn some modest commercial success touring throughout the Midwest, particularly in the states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and South Dakota. He became very known in Minneapolis that is anyway known for its rich cultural and musical stage.
Eventually, Yanni grew tired of the rock and roll lifestyle and focused solely on his instrumental career as a soloist. Most of early music relied heavily on the synthesizer and received little airplay, except on New Age radio stations in larger markets.
Although many fans and critics call his music New Age, Yanni himself has distanced himself from that label. In his autobiography, Yanni devotes an entire chapter to the subject, stating that he prefers to call his music “contemporary instrumental.”
Yanni’s Music Career and Success
Dare to Dream was the first solo album that was released in 1992. It was Yanni’s first Grammy-nominated album and featured “Aria“, a song based on The Flower Duet and popularized by an award-winning British Airways commercial. A second Grammy-nominated album, In My Time, was released in 1993.
Since then, his music has been used extensively in television and televised sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Wide World of Sports, U.S. Open, Tour de France, World Figure Skating Championships, The Olympics, and ABC News.
Yanni – Live At the Acropolis
Yanni’s breakthrough commercial success came with the release of his album and video, Live at the Acropolis which was filmed at the Herodes Atticus Ampitheater, under the Parthenon in Athens.
This was Yanni’s first album which utilized a full orchestra rather than a handful of studio musicians, and his first live album. Subsequently, the concert was broadcast in the US on PBS. It proved to be one of PBS’s most popular programs ever, and the resulting album sales brought Yanni’s biggest commercial success to date. It is estimated that half a billion people watched this program.
What happened after that is history. He now has his own recording studio, and has sold over 10 million albums. What is the most surprising detail about Yanni as a composer is that being a self-taught musician, Yanni can neither read nor write music, but rather writes down his compositions in his own special shorthand. He has perfect pitch, and composes all of his own music.
Yanni performing Greek music in major World Sites
A few years after performing Greek music under the Acropolis, making one of his dreams come true, in March 1997, Yanni became one of the few Western artists permitted to perform and record at the Taj Mahal in India.
Later that year he performed at the Forbidden City in China. From these two events he created his next live album and video, Tribute, which was released in 1997. These concerts were recorded and then released in DVDs. Lighting Designers Lee Rose and David “Gurn” Kaniski received an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Drama Series, Variety Series, Miniseries or a Special” for both Live at the Acropolis and Tribute .
Yanni’s music is considered romantic, passionate, melodious and dream provoking. Definitely for a reason…