The Piano Guys
|The Piano Guys|
|Origin||St. George, Utah, U.S.|
|Genres||Classical crossover, orchestral pop, cello rock|
|Labels||Sony Masterworks/TPG Records|
|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 four major-label albums The Piano Guys, The Piano Guys 2, A Family Christmas, and Wonders each reached number one on the Billboard New Age Albums and Classical Albums charts.
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. 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.
Several of the group's YouTube videos have over 20 million views, while all of them have over 750,000. As of October 2014, The Piano Guys' YouTube channel had more than half a billion total video views and over three million subscribers. 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.
Signing with Sony
In September 2012, it was announced that the Piano Guys had been signed by Sony. This resulted in a worldwide release of the album The Piano Guys, followed in 2013 by The Piano Guys 2, and Wonders in 2014.
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.
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 both piano and crew to the remote location.
Beethoven's 5 Secrets
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 two million hits within two months of its release. It was OneRepublic's "Secrets" with parts from Beethoven's 5th symphony, a cello and orchestral cover. The vocal version features YouTube star Tiffany Alvord.
This video is a spoof of the Star Wars soundtrack and films. The song was produced by Al van der Beek and Steven Sharp Nelson with special effects by Tel Stewart. The video was posted to YouTube on December 2, 2011. It has more than 23 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):
- "The Imperial March" (Empire Strikes Back theme)
- "Duel of the Fates" (from Episode I)
- "May the Force Be With You"
- "Star Wars Main Theme"
- "Cantina Band" (from Episode IV)
This video 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
In this video  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
This video 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
This video 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
This video shows Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson performing on the Great Wall of China. This was always a dream of Paul Anderson along with the other Seven Wonders of the World to place a piano (and now cellos) on the Great Wall of China.
|Title||Details||Peak chart positions|
|US New Age
|Hits Volume 1||—||7||1||—||—||—||—||—|
|The Piano Guys||
|The Piano Guys 2||
|A Family Christmas||
|"—" denotes an album that did not chart or was not released.|
|2013||Response of the Year||"Titanium/Pavane"||Nominated|
- "Billboard New Age Albums Chart History: The Piano Guys". Billboard. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
- "Billboard Classical Albums Chart History: The Piano Guys". Billboard. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
- "The Piano Guys - What's our Story?". Archived from the original on December 17, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
- ThePianoGuys's channel on YouTube
- "Introducing ThePianoGuys, your June On The Rise winner". YouTube Official Blog. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
- Verdugo Morgan, Alexa (March 22, 2013). "The Piano Guys success spreads worldwide: Debut album, overseas appearances, US tour". St George News. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
- della Cava, Marco R. (September 5, 2012). "Web hit Piano Guys sign with Sony". USA Today. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
- Coldplay - Paradise (Peponi) African Style (Piano/Cello Cover) - The Piano Guys ft. Alex Boyé on YouTube
- "Lyceum Philharmonic to Perform with The Piano Guys for PBS Broadcast" (PDF). American Heritage. September 14, 2012.
- Beethoven's 5 Secrets - OneRepublic (Cello/Orchestral Cover) - The Piano Guys on YouTube
- Cello Wars (Star Wars Parody) Lightsaber Duel - Steven Sharp Nelson on YouTube
- Steven Sharp Nelson - Moonlight - Electric Cello (Inspired by Beethoven) on YouTube
- Jon Schmidt - Michael Meets Mozart - 1 Piano, 2 Guys, 100 Cello Tracks - feat. Steven Sharp Nelson on YouTube
- Steven Sharp Nelson - The Cello Song - Bach is back (with 7 more cellos) The Piano Guys on YouTube
- Jon Schmidt - Rock meets Rachmaninoff - Piano Remix (BAND MIX link in description) on YouTube
- Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends - The Piano Guys on YouTube
- "The Piano Guys – Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media.
- Peak Billboard Classical chart positions:
- Peak Billboard Classical chart positions:
- All other albums: "The Piano Guys – Chart History: Classical Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media.
- Ryan, Gavin (October 18, 2014). "Triple J Has Australia's Number One Album". Noise11. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
- "Discographie The Piano Guys". Ö3 Austria Top 40 (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
- "Discographie The Piano Guys". GfK Entertainment (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
- "Discography The Piano Guys". Swiss Hitparade. Hung Medien. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
- "PIANO GUYS Albums". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
- Lopez, Korina (November 4, 2013). "A mix of internet sensations and heavy hitters took home awards.". USA Today.