The Piano Guys

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For The Piano Guy, see Scott Houston.
The Piano Guys
Piano Guys.JPG
Background information
Origin St. George, Utah, USA
Genres Classical crossover, orchestral pop, cello rock
Years active 2010-present
Labels Sony Masterworks
Website www.thepianoguys.com
Members
Past members Tel Stewart

The Piano Guys are an American musical group consisting of Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson, and Al van der Beek. They gained popularity through YouTube, where they posted piano and cello renditions of popular songs and classical music. Schmidt and Nelson's music is accompanied by professional-quality videos shot and edited by Paul Anderson and formerly by Tel Stewart. Their first three major-label albums The Piano Guys, The Piano Guys 2, and A Family Christmas each reached number one on the Billboard New Age Albums and Classical Albums charts.[1][2] Newest album Wonders is due October 7, 2014, pre-orders are now available.[3]

History[edit]

Paul Anderson owned a piano shop in St. George, Utah. He met musician Jon Schmidt as the latter walked in to ask if he could practice there for an upcoming concert.[4] Months later, Paul Anderson and Tel Stewart (then just for fun) started making videos together with Jon Schmidt. It was not too long after that they did their first collaboration with Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, and Al Van Der Beek as the studio and music technician. After the five of them started collaborating the group really started to take off, producing a music video each week and posting it to YouTube.

Success[edit]

Several of the group's YouTube videos have over 20 million views, while all of them have over 750,000. As of February 2014, The Piano Guys' YouTube channel has over 345 million total video views and about 3,000,000+ subscribers.[5] In June 2011, The Piano Guys won the “Most Up-and-Coming Channel” award in the YouTube "On the Rise" contest with "Michael Meets Mozart" with Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson.[6][7]

Signing with Sony[edit]

In September 2012 it was announced that the Piano Guys had been signed by Sony.[8] This resulted in a world-wide release of the album The Piano Guys, followed in 2013 by The Piano Guys 2, and Wonders expected in 2014.

Works[edit]

Jon plays the piano and Steven plays the cello - acoustic, electric, Carbon Fiber, and Steel.

Most songs are composed of several audio tracks that are mixed together. Occasionally, they superimpose the videos of the previous audio tracks to give the impression that many identical instrumentalists are playing at once.

Peponi[edit]

After deciding to go for an African theme, Alex Boyé joined Steven and Jon for the recording of a cover of Coldplay's Paradise. The associated video clip mostly stands out because it was recorded on top of the local Red Stone mountain near St.George Utah. - requiring helicopters to transport piano and crew to the remote location.[9]

Beethoven's 5 Secrets[edit]

In 2012 the American Heritage Lyceum Philharmonic (Youth Orchestra), and its director, Kayson Brown, approached with the idea of a piece based on Beethoven's 5th symphony. The orchestra performed "Beethoven's Secrets" with The Piano Guys on YouTube which had received 2 million hits within 2 months of its release. It was OneRepublic's Secrets with parts from Beethoven's 5th symphony, a cello and orchestral cover.[10] The vocal version features YouTube star Tiffany Alvord.

Cello Wars[edit]

This video[11] is a spoof of the Star Wars soundtrack and films. It was posted to YouTube on December 2, 2011. It has more than 18 million views to date.

Steven plays both a Jedi Master and a Sith Lord who come together to do a musical fight on cellos. The Jedi and the Sith fight using more than just their cellos – they also use The Force and lightsabers. Darth Vader (Al van der Beek) appears in the movie and after creating a force wind, he pulls out an accordion to play the tune from the cantina in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Chewbacca (Paul Anderson) also makes an appearance. In the end of the clip, Darth Vader and Chewbacca can be seen dancing together.

The following John Williams Star Wars movie themes are used (in order of appearance):

Moonlight[edit]

This video[12] shows Steven Sharp Nelson playing Moonlight, a piece he composed for electric cello inspired by Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and the melody from Beethoven's 7th Symphony, 2nd movement. It was posted to YouTube on July 14, 2011.

Michael Meets Mozart[edit]

In this video [13] Jon and Steven play an original hip hop/classical mash-up that is recognized by the variety of sound effects they produce. According to the description all sound effects were created by them using only the instruments shown in the video (piano, cello, mouth percussion and bass drum) with more than 100 recorded tracks. It was posted to YouTube on May 17, 2011. It was created as a tribute to classical composer Mozart and Michael Jackson.

The Cello Song[edit]

This video[14] is an original arrangement and adaptation of J.S. Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1: Prelude, by Steven Sharp Nelson. While the original prelude is for solo cello, Steven adapted it for 8 cellos, with the addition of original material. It was posted to YouTube on June 14, 2011. In the description, Steven explains he named it "The Cello Song" because it was what people actually called Bach's original piece since no one could remember its name.

Rock meets Rachmaninoff[edit]

This video[15] shows Jon Schmidt playing a modern version of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# minor. It was posted to YouTube on July 25, 2011. According to the description, Jon wrote this song when his son started his first band and researched music on YouTube. There are two versions of this song on YouTube; both feature Jon Schmidt and a band consisting of Chris Wormer, Joel Stevenett and Jake Bowen. In the original 'Rockmaninoff' version, the volume of all instruments is well-balanced. In the 'Rock meets Rachmaninoff' version, the piano sounds much louder than the other instruments. The video also shows the sheet music for this song. The sheet music lists the play volume as 'Pretty dang loud'.

Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends[edit]

This video[16] shows Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson performing atop the Great Wall of China.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions
US
[17]
US Class
[18]
AUT
[19]
GER
[20]
Hits Volume 1 7
The Piano Guys 44 1 65 51
The Piano Guys 2 38 1 97
A Family Christmas 20 1
Wonders
"—" denotes an album that did not chart or was not released.

Awards[edit]

YouTube Music Awards

Year Category Work Result
2013 Response of the Year "Titanium/Pavane" Nominated[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Billboard New Age Albums Chart History: The Piano Guys". Billboard. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Billboard Classical Albums Chart History: The Piano Guys". Billboard. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  3. ^ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/wonders/id911904522
  4. ^ "The Piano Guys - What's our Story?". Archived from the original on 17 December 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  5. ^ ThePianoGuys's channel on YouTube
  6. ^ "Introducing ThePianoGuys, your June On The Rise winner". YouTube Official Blog. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Verdugo Morgan, Alexa (22 March 2013). "The Piano Guys success spreads worldwide: Debut album, overseas appearances, US tour". St George News. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  8. ^ della Cava, Marco R. (5 September 2012). "Web hit Piano Guys sign with Sony". USA Today. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  9. ^ Coldplay - Paradise (Peponi) African Style (Piano/Cello Cover) - The Piano Guys ft. Alex Boyé on YouTube
  10. ^ Beethoven's 5 Secrets - OneRepublic (Cello/Orchestral Cover) - The Piano Guys on YouTube
  11. ^ Cello Wars (Star Wars Parody) Lightsaber Duel - Steven Sharp Nelson on YouTube
  12. ^ Steven Sharp Nelson - Moonlight - Electric Cello (Inspired by Beethoven) on YouTube
  13. ^ Jon Schmidt - Michael Meets Mozart - 1 Piano, 2 Guys, 100 Cello Tracks - feat. Steven Sharp Nelson on YouTube
  14. ^ Steven Sharp Nelson - The Cello Song - Bach is back (with 7 more cellos) The Piano Guys on YouTube
  15. ^ Jon Schmidt - Rock meets Rachmaninoff - Piano Remix (BAND MIX link in description) on YouTube
  16. ^ Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends - The Piano Guys on YouTube
  17. ^ "The Piano Guys – Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 
  18. ^ Peak Billboard Classical chart positions:
  19. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Discographie The Piano Guys". Austrian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). 
  20. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Discographie The Piano Guys". German Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). 
  21. ^ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/wonders/id911904522
  22. ^ "YouTube Music Awards winners list". Retrieved April 9, 2014. 

External links[edit]