Matthew Olshefski is a classically trained violinist who began playing at the age of 3. He has performed with such artists as Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli. In 2016, he became a YouTube sensation once he removed his tuxedo and began his career as the “Shirtless Violinist.” Thanks to his fans and a successful Kickstarter campaign, Matthew released his latest album, Disney Strings, on October 11. The album features stripped-down, acoustic rendering of classic Disney songs arranged for acoustic violin and classical guitar.
The LGBTQ-themed video for the lead single, “King of Pride Rock”, inspired by The Lion King, was released in July and has over 2 million views on YouTube. Matthew produces music that is pleasing to the ears and is pleasing to the eyes to boot, with an Instagram that is positively fire. Matthew took some time to talk about the new album and his musical roots and answered the Socialite Seven. Learn more about this talented and handsome musician.
How did music influence your life?
Music has always been a huge part of my life! I began taking violin lessons at the age of 3, and when my younger brother and sister came along, they picked it up as well. By the time I was 11 years old, my brother, sister and I had formed a traveling string trio called “Two Hits and a Miss”. The 3 of us were homeschooled together, and we practiced our violins every single day.
We didn’t grow up with cable TV, but my mother would allow us to watch musicals from the 1950s and 60s, and when we weren’t playing violin, our home was filled with sing-alongs to The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and My Fair Lady (to name just a few!)
As we got older, we joined symphony orchestras, opera orchestras, and ballet orchestras in the Midwest (where I grew up) and eventually in the Seattle area where I live now. I have been teaching the violin professionally since I was 16 years old and today, I teach privately for students ages 3 to 15.
What’s your fondest musical memory?
There are so many to choose from, but the one that immediately jumps out at me was getting to play my violin with Andrea Bocelli when his world tour came through Seattle 3 years ago. The stage was set up like a beautiful Italian piazza, and when I closed my eyes, I almost forget we were performing for thousands of people! Andrea’s voice is so angelic, and it was a moment I will never forget for as long as I live.
What is your all-time favorite song?
Another tough question for a musician to answer, so I’ll tell you my favorite song to play when someone puts me on the spot (which happens a lot at parties!) The Hungarian gypsy song “Czardas” by Vittorio Monti starts off slow and seductive and builds to a frenzied finale that always gets the audience clapping along. If you haven’t heard it before, I suggest you search for a version on YouTube because it’s such a fun song. I would be remiss if I didn’t urge you to search for MY version of the song which I filmed at a Symphony Hall in Birmingham UK! If you search “Shirtless Czardas” I guarantee I’m the only one.
What three things could you not live without?
My violin, my gym membership, and a glass of red wine!
What would you title your autobiography? (Or who would you want to play you in the story of your life?)
“Fit as a Fiddle” and I’ve been told MANY times that I resemble a young Sylvester Stallone. BUT if the casting choice was entirely my decision (and not based on my looks at all) then it would have to be Chris Hemsworth! Shirtless Thor playing violin? Yeah, I’d go see that movie.
If you were a Disney character, who would you be?
I immediately thing of the shirtless Disney characters, so it would have to be either Tarzan or Hercules. Aladdin, the Beast, and Gaston also have semi-shirtless scenes – so those could work as well. It’s actually surprising to see how often Disney goes shirtless. I guess that bodes well for me!
What’s one thing you still want to scratch off your “bucket list”?
Filming a “Gladiator” music video in the Roman Colosseum!
Disney Strings is available on Matthew’s website, and all streaming platforms, including Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora and Google Play. Follow Matthew on YouTube and Instagram for all of the latest from him and plenty of beautiful music and eye candy!