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When you think of piano in the movies, what comes to mind? There are so many iconic and unforgettable Hollywood piano moments: from the dawn of cinema, to the age of streaming-services. What better to evoke such a range of emotions in your audience than with the elegant sounds of the piano?

Here are our Top 10 Hollywood piano moments, in no particular order: 🎬

ROCKETMAN – Your Song

We’re off to a good start! Our first clip is from the 2019 Elton John biopic ‘Rocketman’. Here we’ve got Elton (performed masterfully by Taron Egerton) in the midst of composing the iconic “Your Song” with his longtime writing partner Bernie Taupin (cast as actor Jamie Bell).

🎹🤯 Piano Trivia: Although it’s 100% Taron’s voice through-out the film, and he learned to make his playing look as realistic as possible, the sound of young Elton’s playing is credited to David Hartley, professional pianist and conductor.

OFFICIAL PIANOTE RANKING:
LISA: 8.5/10
SAM: 8/10

BIG – The Walking Piano🥈


When I think of the 1988 coming-of-age film ‘Big’ starring Tom Hanks, there is one clip that immediately comes to mind: The Walking Piano scene at the toy store.

Due to legal issues we aren’t permitted to show the clip to you in our video, but if you want to check it out you can watch it right here! …Or just be sure to appreciate our reactions to the audio! 🙃🎧

🎹🤯Piano Trivia: On the day they filmed that famous scene at FAO Schwarz, Robert Loggia and Tom Hanks noticed that doubles dressed like them were on hand just in case the two could not do the dance moves correctly. It became their goal to do the entire keyboard number without the aid of the doubles. They succeeded.

OFFICIAL PIANOTE RANKING:
LISA: 10/10! 🎉🎉🎉 ”Everything in life should be based off finding more joy”
SAM: 9/10
🥈 Tied for Runner-up

CASABLANCA – As Time Goes By


Perhaps one of the most iconic movies of all time, the piano scene from 1942’s Casablanca may be the most enduring moments in Hollywood history. Originally, the director did not want to include the classic song “As Time Goes By“, but it became one of the most memorable scenes of the film.

🎹🤯 Piano Trivia: In 2014, the original Casablanca miniature piano sold at auction for an incredible 3.4 MILLION dollars.

🎹🤯🤯 Bonus Trivia! The line “Play it again, Sam” is one of the most widely quoted lines from Casablanca, but it never appears in the film. In the famous piano scene, Ilsa leans on the piano and says, “Play it once, Sam” and “Play it, Sam.”

OFFICIAL PIANOTE RANKING:
LISA: 7/10 (We’ll make her watch it, I swear!)
SAM: 8/10

THE PIANIST – Szpilman & Hosenfeld 🥇


Directed by Roman Polanski, ‘The Pianist’ is a 2002 wartime-biographical drama starring Adrien Brody as a Polish-Jewish composer and a Holocaust survivor Władysław Szpilman. In this scene, he plays Chopin‘s “Ballade in G minor” when caught by a German officer.

🎹🤯 Piano Trivia: Shots of Szpilman’s hands playing the piano in close-up were performed by Polish classical pianist Janusz Olejniczak, who also performed on the soundtrack.

OFFICIAL PIANOTE RANKING:
LISA: 10/10
SAM: 10/10
🥇 Winner of the 2020 Pianote Choice Award

TOM & JERRY: The Cat Concerto


Okay, now onto something a little lighter! Tom & Jerry’s 29th outing to the big screen pits the cartoon critters against each other during a rendition of “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2“. This animated film actually won the 1946 Oscar for Best Short Subject: Cartoon, and in 1994, it was voted #42 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time.

🎹🤯 Piano Trivia: Tom’s piano playing was dubbed by musical director Scott Bradley. In some passages, to make it sound extra difficult and impossible for the cat to play while dealing with Jerry, it was arranged for a 4-hand piano duet.

OFFICIAL PIANOTE RANKING:
LISA: 7/10
SAM: 6/10

TWILIGHT: Bella’s Lullaby


Here’s another clip we can’t show in the video due to legal reasons, but Lisa’s reaction alone should be enough reason to watch! 🤭 This is one of the most powerful and romantic scenes in the movie with the beautiful piano piece performed by Robert Pattinson’s Edward, written for the film by composer Carter Burwell.

🎹🤯 Piano Trivia: “’Bella’s Lullaby‘, as it appears in this film, was not written specifically for the movie, but to speak of love—ecstatic, tormented love,” Burwell writes on his website.

OFFICIAL PIANOTE RANKING:
LISA:5/10
SAM: 5/10

RAY: What’d I Say


2004’s ‘Ray’ starring an Academy-Award-winning Jamie Foxx in the titular role, is a biographical film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles. In this scene we see Ray compose the song “What I say” right on the spot, getting everyone at the club on the dance floor. Jamie Foxx played the piano in all the scenes by himself, while all the singing heard is the real Ray Charles.

🎹🤯 Piano Trivia: Jamie Foxx remarked that the demanding role barely left him any time to sleep. His day would begin early in the morning filming for long hours, then he’d go home and stay up late practicing the piano.

🔥🎹 Hot Tip! It might look intimidating, but with a little bit of practice and patience, even you can learn to “Play Like Ray”!

OFFICIAL PIANOTE RANKING:
LISA: 8/10
SAM: 9/10

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PT.1: Ron & Hermione


A short and sweet scene from the penultimate Harry Potter film, here we find Ron & Hermione in a rare moment of peace during their quest to uncover the ‘Horcruxes’. There is something genuine and authentic about this scene, with the two characters piecing together Beethoven’s Für Elise in a way that feels natural and intimate. It’s certainly not the most technically proficient display in our countdown, but it has real emotional weight, and it’s a powerful scene regardless.

OFFICIAL PIANOTE RANKING:
LISA: 6/10
SAM: 8.5/10

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY: Live Aid Performance 🥉


Only one word for this scene: Epic! The 2018 film about the life of singer Freddy Mercury won 4 Oscars giving it the most wins at the 2019 Academy Awards. The original 1985 performance is widely regarded as one of the best live shows in rock and roll history, when in 2005 it was named ‘The World’s Greatest-Ever Live Performance’.

🎹🤯 Piano Trivia: Rami Malek worked to painstakingly match his performance – including the smallest gestures and physical ticks – to the now famed recording of Freddie Mercury in Queen‘s Live Aid set.

OFFICIAL PIANOTE RANKING:
LISA:
9/10
SAM: 9/10
🥉 Honourable Mention

LA LA LAND🥈


It’s the la-la-last one on our list! La La Land is a 2016 American musical starring Ryan Gosling as a Jazz Pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress. There is no piano double for Ryan’s playing at any point in the movie. He spent four months practicing every single day to prepare for his role.

🎹🤯 Piano Trivia: Gosling had no prior experience playing the piano before this film. Co-star John Legend, who is a classically trained pianist, said he was “jealous” of how quickly Gosling learned to play so well, so quickly.

OFFICIAL PIANOTE RANKING:
LISA: 9/10
SAM: 10/10
🥈 Tied for Runner-up

***

Well, that’s it! 10 incredible Hollywood piano moments from 1942 to 2019. I know there’s plenty more out there to inspire you to practice or try something new, what did we miss? We’ve picked our favorites, so what are you watching tonight?? 🍿🍿🍿


Sam Vesely

Sam Vesely is a graduate from MacEwan University's Bachelors of Jazz and Contemporary Pop Music degree with a major in Composition. His extensive knowledge of music styles and music theory is something that Sam is very proud of and he’s excited to share everything that he has learned with all of the students of Pianote.