A pianist performs for a large audience while seated at a grand piano on the Kennedy Center stage. In what initially seems to be another classical performance from a skilled pianist, he begins playing Moonlight Sonata, but he has something spectacular planned. The audience was impressed when he entered the third movement, but they were astounded when he abruptly transformed Beethoven’s masterpiece into a masterpiece of dubstep. In just one year, his 6 minute modern recreation had over 13 million views.
Lionel Yu is a talented pianist who runs the Musical Basics YouTube channel. He was born on the 28th of July 1989 in Hangzhou, China. Later his parents moved to America, and he was raised in the state of Maryland. Not much is known about his childhood, but when he was still a young boy, his parents encouraged him to sign up for piano lessons.
He loved playing the piano and continued to practice throughout his time at school. He also fell in love with classical music composition at this time. Unlike many famous musicians, Lionel did not go to a music school full time and enrolled in business school instead.
However, he continued to study music and attended classes in music composition at New York University and piano and music composition classes at the prestigious Juilliard. Music continued to be Lionel’s deepest passion.
As he fell more in love with music and the piano, in particular, Lionel felt he wanted to share his passion with the world. He started the YouTube channel MusicalBasics in 2008. Rather than just playing the music as it was written, Lionel started to experiment with dubstep and electronic dance music and how he could fuse them with classical compositions.
In Lionel’s own words, “I had this philosophy, which is that even simple melodies and harmonies have a lot of meaning behind them and if performed correctly they can inspire people and change people’s lives.”
The results are incredible and convey so much passion and skill and help us see these classical tunes in a whole new way. The channel exploded in popularity and now has 1.09 million subscribers. The videos Lionel has uploaded have a combined total of 126.6 million views. Check out this fantastic dubstep version of Moonlight Sonata performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
Ten years later, in 2018, Lionel decided to make music his full-time career. As he continued to work and compose, his fame began to spread. He received invitations to perform at Carnegie Hall and Merkin Hall in New York. On the 8th of July 2022, he will be performing some of his most popular pieces at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.
Little is known about Lionel’s life outside of Musical Basics and his love of music. Everything he uploads across his social media accounts relates to his music with no mention of his personal life. He does not appear to be married, and he has not talked about a girlfriend or boyfriend in his interviews. His social media presence is enormous, which explains how he has become so successful even though he has only released one album. The album, Musical Basics, receives an average of 101,000 listens per month on Spotify.
Unfortunately, his net worth has not been calculated but considering he averages 2400 views per day on YouTube and 101,000 listens per month on Spotify, he is making enough money for music to be his full-time career. Let’s hope that as he performs at more venues, Lionel chooses to be more forthcoming about his life so we can get to know this incredibly talented musician better.