“The Beginning - Greece”
In Kalamata, on the shores of the Mediterranean, Yanni was born in 1954 to Sotiri and Felitsa Chryssomallis. The second of three children, Yanni has an older brother and a younger sister. Sharing a deep-rooted love of music, the family spent much of their time playing and singing together.
Yanni's parents provided a typical Greek life for the young boy. He grew up fishing, swimming, and going to school like every other boy in his town, with one exception. Yanni was born to compose music. He began to play the piano at age six, but he refused formal piano lessons. As a child, Yanni heard music in his head and he simply wanted to hear it come out of the piano too, so he needed to learn how to play to make that happen. He felt a certain freedom with the keys that might have been crushed under the weight of structured learning.
Music was not Yanni's only talent. In 1969, at the age of 14, Yanni broke the Greek National swimming record for the men's 50-meter freestyle event. Although he could have pursued this skill, he chose to travel a different path; one which eventually led him to share his musical gift with the world.
His childhood in Greece and his love for his native country gave Yanni his inspiration to compose such songs as "Santorini," "Nostalgia," and "Acroyali."
“The Second Beginning - United States”
In 1972, with the encouragement of his parents, Yanni left his homeland to attend the University of Minnesota. Between his studies, he played in local rock and roll bands and began to develop his personal musical style using both piano and electronic keyboards to create new sounds.
Despite a new culture, a new climate, and a new language, Yanni graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. After graduation, he decided to give music 100% of his effort for one year. He needed to better understand the driving artistic forces that had been such a large part of his childhood years. It was during this year that he chose to make music his vocation.