The Piano Guys is an American music duo consisting of Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson. They became famous through YouTube, where they posted videos of renditions and mashes of popular songs accompanied by professional looking video clips. In December 2011 they released their first album.
Paul Anderson has 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. They started making audio recordings and videos together. After Steven Sharp Nelson joined, the group took off, producing a music video each week and posting it to YouTube. Several videos have over a million views.
The team also includes Tel Stewart and Al Van Der Beek, who work behind the scenes in music and video production.
Several videos have over 5 million views.
As of March 18, 2012, The Piano Guys are in the top 300 world-wide YouTube channels.
Jon plays piano, Steven plays cello - both the classical and the electrical kind.
In most songs, they record 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 all playing at once.
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 sounds effects were created by them using only the instruments shown in the video (piano, cello, mouth percussion and kick drum), with more than 100 recorded tracks. It was posted to YouTube on May 17, 2011.
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 song featured a single cello, Steven had it adapted for 8 cellos, with the creation 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 song since no one could remember its name.
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.
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'.
This video is a spoof of the Star Wars soundtrack and films. It was posted to YouTube on December 2, 2011.
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 appears in the movie and after some fighting with the Jedi and the Sith, he reappears with an accordion to play the tune from the cantina in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Chewbacca also makes an appearance. In the end of the clip, Darth Vader and Chewbacca are 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),
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 2 million hits within 2 months of its release.