The Piano Guys

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For The Piano Guy, see Scott Houston.
The Piano Guys
Piano Guys 2014.jpg
The Piano Guys in 2014
Background information
Origin St. George, Utah
Genres Classical crossover, orchestral pop, cello rock
Years active 2010-present
Labels Sony Masterworks/TPG Records
Associated acts Alex Boyé, Lindsey Stirling, Shweta Subram, Tiffany Alvord, Tyler Ward
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 Anderson and formerly by Tel Stewart. Their first five major-label albums The Piano Guys, The Piano Guys 2, A Family Christmas, Wonders, and Uncharted each reached number one on the Billboard Classical Albums chart.[1][2]

History and success[edit]

Anderson owned a piano shop in St. George, Utah when Schmidt asked Anderson if he could practice in his store for an upcoming concert.[3] Months later, Anderson and Stewart started making amateur videos with Schmidt. Soon after, they collaborated with Schmidt, along with studio and music technicians Nelson and Van Der Beek. They quickly began producing weekly music videos and uploading to YouTube.

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 Schmidt and Nelson.[4][5] In September 2012, Sony announced the signing of Piano Guys.[6] This resulted in a global release of the The Piano Guys album, followed by The Piano Guys 2 in 2013 and Wonders in 2014. On August 6, 2016, during their concert at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, YouTube and Sony presented a plaque commemorating a billion total video views.[7] Several of the group's YouTube videos have over 20 million views, and each has at least 750,000. As of October 2016, The Piano Guys' YouTube channel had over five million subscribers.[8]

Their decision to perform at the presidential inauguration in January 2017 sparked controversy. While other musical groups declined invitations to perform,[9] the group explained on their blog, "We don’t feel right limiting our positive message only to people that believe or act the same way we do.".[10] At the inauguration's Liberty Ball, the Piano Guys played a custom rendition of "Fight Song", without consent from its original artist. This had been one of the songs used by Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign. The Piano Guys later released a statement noting that their unscheduled rendition of the song was not meant to be political.[11]

Works[edit]

Schmidt plays the piano and Nelson plays the cello (acoustic and electric). Most songs are composed of several audio tracks mixed together. Occasionally, previous audio tracks are superimposed to imitate many identical instrumentalists played simultaneously.

2010–2011[edit]

The first video posted to their YouTube channel is "Game Day".[12] "The Dumb Song" came almost a year later, inspired by a commercial Schmidt saw in his childhood.[13] "To the Summit" was inspired from a dream Schmidt had. He is accompanied with Ray Smith on a tenor saxophone.[14] Among the Top 10 of their most popular videos, "Michael Meets Mozart – 1 Piano, 2 Guys, 100 Cello Tracks" was produced in part by the fans encouraging them to create more mashups of various song styles and artists.[15] Created by Schmidt's son, Spencer, The Piano Guys and Spencer collaborated on the song "Bittersweet".[16] With his cello, Steve played one of Bach's Cello Suite 1 with seven layers of cellos being played together on this piece.[17]

Southern Utah, being where The Piano Guys are from, is showcased in "Desert Symphony", a video produced by Shaye Scott.[18]

"Moonlight" was filmed predominantly in Salt Flats, Utah. This video[19] shows 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.

This video[20] shows 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, Schmidt 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 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'.

Their cover of "Bring Him Home" from the musical version of Les Misérables was dedicated to those in the military and their families.[21]

Along with Nelson, Schmidt played an arrangement of "Twinkle Lullaby", a version of "Twinkle Little Star".[22]

Other tracks they've made are:

2012–2013[edit]

2014–2015[edit]

2016[edit]

  • Cover[34] of Adele's Hello / Lacrimosa (Mozart)
  • Cover[35] of Disney's The Jungle Book / Sarabande (Mayan Style)
  • Cover of "Okay" Written by Andy Grammar and Dave Bassett

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions
US
[36]
US Class
[37]
US New Age
[38]
AUS
[39]
AUT
[40]
CAN
[41]
GER
[42]
SWI
[43]
UK
[44]
Hits Volume 1 7 1
The Piano Guys
  • Released: October 2, 2012
  • Label: Sony Masterworks
  • Format: Digital download, CD
44 1 1 65 51 51
The Piano Guys 2
  • Released: May 7, 2013
  • Label: Portrait
  • Format: Digital download, CD
38 1 1 97
A Family Christmas
  • Released: October 22, 2013
  • Label: Portrait
  • Format: Digital download, CD
20 1 1
Wonders
  • Released: October 7, 2014
  • Label: Portrait
  • Format: Digital download, CD
12 1 1 88 86 46 99
Uncharted
  • Released: October 28, 2016
  • Label: Portrait
  • Format: Digital download, CD
15 1 1 66
"—" denotes an album that did not chart or was not released.

Live albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions
US
[36]
US Top Albums
US Class
[37]
US New Age
[38]
Live!: Carnegie Hall Audio + Red Rocks Concert Video
  • Released: November 13, 2015
  • Label: Portrait
  • Format: Digital download, CD+DVD
111 73 4 2

Awards[edit]

YouTube Music Awards

Year Category Work Result
2013 Response of the Year "Titanium/Pavane" Nominated[45]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Billboard New Age Albums Chart History: The Piano Guys". Billboard. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Billboard Classical Albums Chart History: The Piano Guys". Billboard. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Piano Guys – What's our Story?". Archived from the original on December 17, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Introducing ThePianoGuys, your June On The Rise winner". YouTube Official Blog. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ della Cava, Marco R. (September 5, 2012). "Web hit Piano Guys sign with Sony". USA Today. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  7. ^ https://www.sony.com/en_us/SCA/company-news/press-releases/sony-music-masterworks/2016/the-piano-guys-reach-1-billion-views-on-youtube.html
  8. ^ ThePianoGuys' channel on YouTube
  9. ^ http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/22/trump-s-inauguration-nightmare-all-the-musicians-who-have-turned-down-invites.html
  10. ^ http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865671203/The-Piano-Guys-explain-why-they-will-perform-at-Trump-inauguration.html
  11. ^ ""Statement Inauguration Performance"". Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  12. ^ ThePianoGuys (2010-03-16), Game Day – ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  13. ^ ThePianoGuys (2011-02-05), Dumb Song – ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  14. ^ ThePianoGuys (2011-05-06), To The Summit (Featuring Ray Smith on Tenor Sax) – ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  15. ^ ThePianoGuys (2011-05-17), Michael Meets Mozart – 1 Piano, 2 Guys, 100 Cello Tracks – ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  16. ^ ThePianoGuys (2011-05-25), BitterSweet (ft. guest artist, Spencer Schmidt) – filmed by ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  17. ^ ThePianoGuys (2011-06-14), The Cello Song – (Bach is back with 7 more cellos) – ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  18. ^ ThePianoGuys (2011-06-21), Desert Symphony (Southern Utah's Landscape) – ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  19. ^ Steven Sharp Nelson – Moonlight – Electric Cello (Inspired by Beethoven) on YouTube
  20. ^ Jon Schmidt – Rock meets Rachmaninoff – Piano Remix (BAND MIX link in description) on YouTube
  21. ^ ThePianoGuys (2011-08-10), Bring Him Home (from Les Misérables) – ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  22. ^ ThePianoGuys (2011-08-23), Twinkle Lullaby (Twinkle Little Star) – ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  23. ^ Cello Wars (Star Wars Parody) Lightsaber Duel – Steven Sharp Nelson on YouTube
  24. ^ Coldplay – Paradise (Peponi) African Style (Piano/Cello Cover) – The Piano Guys ft. Alex Boyé on YouTube
  25. ^ "Lyceum Philharmonic to Perform with The Piano Guys for PBS Broadcast" (PDF). American Heritage. September 14, 2012. 
  26. ^ Beethoven's 5 Secrets – OneRepublic (Cello/Orchestral Cover) – The Piano Guys on YouTube
  27. ^ ThePianoGuys (2013-01-07), Mission Impossible (Piano/Cello/Violin) ft. Lindsey Stirling – ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  28. ^ Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends – The Piano Guys on YouTube
  29. ^ ThePianoGuys (2014-12-12), Over A Thousand People Came Together To Break a Record And Bring This Moving Christmas Hymn To Life, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  30. ^ ThePianoGuys (2015-05-07), What Are Words – ft. Peter & Evynne Hollens – ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  31. ^ ThePianoGuys (2015-10-03), When Stars and Salt collide – Coldplay, A Sky Full of Stars (piano/cello cover), retrieved 2016-03-09 
  32. ^ ThePianoGuys (2015-10-29), This is Your Fight Song (Rachel Platten Scottish Cover), retrieved 2016-03-09 
  33. ^ ThePianoGuys (2015-11-30), "Silent Night" ft. Plácido Domingo -ThePianoGuys #ASaviorIsBorn, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  34. ^ ThePianoGuys (2016-01-28), Adele – Hello / Lacrimosa (Mozart) – ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-03-09 
  35. ^ ThePianoGuys (2016-05-03), The Jungle Book / Sarabande (Mayan Style) – ThePianoGuys, retrieved 2016-05-03 
  36. ^ a b "The Piano Guys – Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 
  37. ^ a b Peak Billboard Classical chart positions:
  38. ^ a b Peak Billboard Classical chart positions:
  39. ^ Ryan, Gavin (October 18, 2014). "Triple J Has Australia's Number One Album". Noise11. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  40. ^ "Discographie The Piano Guys". Ö3 Austria Top 40 (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 17, 2014. 
  41. ^ "The Piano Guys – Chart History: Canadian Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  42. ^ "Discographie The Piano Guys". GfK Entertainment (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 17, 2014. 
  43. ^ "Discography The Piano Guys". Swiss Hitparade. Hung Medien. Retrieved October 16, 2014. 
  44. ^ "PIANO GUYS Albums". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 23, 2014. 
  45. ^ Lopez, Korina (November 4, 2013). "A mix of internet sensations and heavy hitters took home awards.". USA Today. 

External links[edit]