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Mark O'Connor

Mark O'Connor is an astonishingly versatile American violinist and composer who has had exceptional success melding various genres of music -- country and bluegrass, jazz, and classical -- into his own unique style and voice. This has resulted in two Grammy Awards; dozens of his own albums; collaborations with a diversity of other musicians, such as Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Renée Fleming, James Taylor, Chris Thile, Alison Krauss, and Marin Alsop; and a playing method program widely used by string students.

O'Connor first took classical guitar lessons as a child and taught himself to play flamenco music, before beginning fiddle lessons at age 11. Soon he was studying with Benny Thomasson, an icon of American fiddling. In his late teens, O'Connor next became a student of jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli, touring with him as well. O'Connor then worked with Dave Grisman and his Quintet and with Steve Morse of the Dregs. Between 1975 and 1982, O'Connor won competitions as a guitarist, fiddler, and mandolinist. He moved to Nashville in 1983, becoming a session player for many country stars, such as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Emmylou Harris, and Randy Travis. O'Connor, Edgar Meyer, Béla Fleck, Jerry Douglas, and Sam Bush formed the band Strength in Numbers in 1986, which played some of O'Connor's own pieces. His first Grammy Award came in 1991 for his album New Nashville Cats. His music became increasingly sophisticated, utilizing elements of folk, classical, jazz, and world music -- what he calls the "four pillars of string playing," while he absorbed more technical knowledge from artists like Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Yehudi Menuhin, and Pinchas Zukerman.

His first album on Sony Classical, Appalachia Waltz (1996), with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and bassist Edgar Meyer, impressed classical critics with its originality and attractiveness and became a huge crossover hit. The trio's next album, Appalachian Journey (2000), won O'Connor his second Grammy Award. His Fiddle Concerto, composed in 1993, has been performed around the world hundreds of times. By 2010, he had written another six concertos and the Americana Symphony, recorded by Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony. He recorded his String Quartets No. 2 "Bluegrass" and No. 3 "Old-Time" in 2009 with Ida Kavafian, Paul Neubauer, and Matt Haimovitz. That same year saw the publication of the first book of his string teaching method. The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Gloriae Dei Cantores, the Eroica Trio -- for whom he wrote Poets and Prophets, inspired by the music of Johnny Cash -- and film director Ken Burns are among those who have commissioned new music from O'Connor. The 2001 release Hot Swing!, with Jon Burr and Frank Vignola, was a tribute to Grappelli; the same Hot Swing Trio released Live in New York in 2005. O'Connor had Renée Fleming, Alison Krauss, and James Taylor among his guests for An Appalachian Christmas (2011), which also became an annual touring show. In 2015, O'Connor and his wife Maggie released their first album together, Duo. In late 2015, Mark introduced the O'Connor Band, a contemporary bluegrass project in which he was joined by wife Maggie, son Forrest O'Connor, and daughter-in-law Kate Lee. The group released its debut album, Coming Home, in August 2016. ~ Patsy Morita
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Heroes

1. New Country

2. The Devil Comes Back To Georgia

3. Fiddlin' Around

4. Gold Rush

5. House Of The Rising Sun

6. Diggy Diggy Lo

7. Jole Blon

8. Sadness / Darlin' Waltz

9. Jerusalem's Ridge

10. Sally Johnson (live)

11. Ashokan Farewell

12. This Can't Be Love

13. Ain't Misbehavin'

14. Nomad

x

Track List: The New Nashville Cats

1. Bowtie

2. Restless

3. Nashville Shuffle Boogie

4. Pick It Apart

5. Traveller's Ridge

6. Granny White Special

7. Cat In The Bag

8. The Ballad Of Sally Anne

9. Swang

10. Dance Of The Ol' Swamp Rat

11. A Bowl Of Bula

12. Limerock

13. Sweet Suzanne

14. Orange Blossom Special

15. Now It Belongs To You

x

Track List: Retrospective

1. Dusty Miller

2. Dreamer's Waltz

3. Pickin' In The Wind

4. Tom And Jerry

5. Dixie Breakdown

6. Beserkeley

7. On Top Of The World

8. Dixie Breakdown

9. Soft Gyrations

10. The Dark Rain

11. Ease With The Breeze

12. Peaches N' Cream

13. Misty Moonlight Waltz

14. Wild Fiddler's Rag

15. Floating Bridge Of Dreams

16. Rose Among Thorns

17. Thanks And Goodbyes

18. An Empty Hall / Into The Walls Of Mandoness

x

Track List: Soppin' The Gravy

1. Soppin' The Gravy

2. Misty Moonlight Waltz

3. College Hornpipe

4. Calgary Polka

5. Morning Star Waltz

6. Peaches 'n' Cream

7. Skater's Waltz

8. Tennessee Wagoneer

9. Yellow Rose Waltz

10. Medley: Speed The Plow, The Maid Behind The Bar, Teatottler's Reel

11. Jesse Polka

12. The Dawn Waltz

13. Wild Fiddler's Rag

14. Over The Rainbow

x

Track List: Markology

1. Dixie Breakdown

2. Markology

3. Kit's Waltz

4. Fluid Drive

5. Blackberry Blossom

6. Pickin' In The Wind

7. Banks Of The Ohio

8. Beserkeley

9. On Top Of The World

x

Track List: Thirty-Year Retrospective

Disc 1

1. A Bowl Of Bula (live)

2. Tom & Jerry (live)

3. Flight Home (live)

4. Johnny Appleseed (live)

5. Jerusalem's Ridge (live)

6. Mark's Waltz (live)

7. Jesse Polka (live)

8. Swingin' On The 'ville

9. Send Rainbows (live)

10. Caprice No. 4 In D Major

11. March Of The Pharaohs (live)

12. Macedonia (live)

13. Song Of The Liberty Bell

14. Stone From Which The Arch Is Made

15. One Winter's Night (live)

Disc 2

1. Bowtie (live)

2. Butterfly's Day Out

3. Emily's Reel (live)

4. Midnight Interlude

5. Pickin' In The Wind

6. October Impressions

7. Soppin' The Gravy

8. On A June Day

9. From Panama To El Pichincha

10. Into The Walls Of Mandoness

11. Don't Let The Deal Go Down

12. Soft Gyrations

13. Granny White Special

14. Appalachia Waltz

Comments

Report as inappropriate
His version of House of the Rising Sun is amazing!
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Look up the video on YouTube it is johnny cash that narrates
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geri-doctor
PLAYED THIS ON MY CELLO- JUST BEAUTIFUL !! ALSO THE FULL STING VERSION IS GORGEOUS- SAW MARK PLAY IT WITH HIS GROUP IN NJ
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Johnny Cash IS the narrator in this version. This was recorded by Daniels and fiddle player Mark O'Connor in 1993, featuring guest performances by Travis Tritt (as the devil), Marty Stuart (as Johnny) and Johnny Cash as the narrator.
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I beg to differ but this was a Charlie Daniels original song
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Closest to Johnny cash I've ever heard someone sound bet you could tell someone it was and they would believe it
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I like Charlie Daniels voice better they sound different but this is still good ☺️
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ok I did not realize the devil came back to Georgia it was originally the devil went down to Georgia playing the violin for this song must be really challenging
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Gotta agree with alangdon99 on that one
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You can't tell me it doesn't sound like Johnny cash
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I love this song as well it goes with both The Devil Went Down to Georgia
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i love his work on the dirt band's Will The Circle Be Unbroken II -- one of my all-time favorite albums. he was basically the session fiddler on just about every track and he worked magic.
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I thought it was Charlie Daniels doing a remake
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O'Connor was an unreal guitarist. Markology should be in the first breath of anyone reciting the best flatpicking guitar albums ever. It's shocking that few people remember or recognize just how steller his guitar chops were.
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Great sounds accomplished player. Must have had some formal training on the Violin great sounding music from the Gentleman.
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What a talented musician.
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rpruitt661
A wonderful musician. I visualized Mama and Daddy waltzing in the kitchen again. Beautiful song.
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I went to his fiddle camp about 8 years ago. Great experience.
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cjschuh7
I watched Mark O'Connor win National Fiddle Contest in Weiser Idaho. He is amazing.
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Great sounds from a person I never heard of till Pandora. Thanks Pandora
Report as inappropriate
Amazing talent. His voice is very reminiscent of Johnny Cash.
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Ken Burns the civil war introduced me to mark I Connor when I was a kid. Came across this on pandora. Love it!
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Funny, no mention of his time with the Dregs, which in my humble opinion was some of his best work. Check out Going for Baroque and you'll hear what I mean!
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Amazing fiddle playing
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Love the first one of the devil went down to Georgia these songs are really good.
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patrickleste r 2 3
This is great, but it shows so little of how great Mark O'Connor is - he can play anything!
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Never heard of him until now. But this is a great cover. Was that Johnny Cash singing some of it?
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To all Irish Lover's..."t o c e b a c h a " ! ! !
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This Waltz allows me to dream of another earlier time. So lovely...... L T
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Great Player!
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swag
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Daniels better than O'Conner?
Red is grey and yellow white.
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion?
Report as inappropriate
Charlie Daniels thinks he has imputation of Christ's merit by grace
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Love this :)!
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CD is great at hack & slash fiddle - I'd like to hear him do something this controlled and melodic.
There's a difference between pop culture and art.
Report as inappropriate
Yep
Charlie Daniels can't, won't, and will never be beaten
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Bull crap Charlie Daniels is way better the mark
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Charlie Daniels is a wimp in comparison to the mighty Mark O'Conner
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cef1953
Mark O'Connors music makes me happy... and want to dance!!! yee haw!!
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great music
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Charlie Daniels is great at what he does. Mark O'Connor is great at what he does. When comparing artists, its relative to what they do and how they interpret the music. A great artist helps you find your deepest emotions or feel light on your feet. A great artist isn't defined by how fast they can play a country music song. Sorry.
Report as inappropriate
newexodus
Heard him perform at my university a few years ago. Hearing him perform live brought tears to my eyes. He inspired me to start learning to play the fiddle. I also deeply respect him because he invests his time training and promoting young players.
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bholler1
I love this song.
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good
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this is a little too slow for me. but it's still nice!
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jpday50
I like his mustache.
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jpday50
I like his mustache.
Report as inappropriate
jhspv
Mark has always been one of the stellar, tasteful musicians of any and all genres, certainly among fiddlers of all time. Markology set standard for flatpicking too with a great summit of Dan Crary and Tony Rice. He had Daniels join him on his Heroes album. Strength in Numbers was great stuff but love Appalachian Waltz and YoYoMa project. Thanks to Doc, Vassar, Clarence, David, Tony, Mark, Jerry, Sam and Chris to set the bar for acoustic stringed instruments.
Report as inappropriate
I enjoy this. Good stuff.
Easy to be a critic. They don't actually do anything, do they? Intellectual posing.
Report as inappropriate
massbachridg e
i hate it so much
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