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Mark O'Connor's Fiddle concerto: Texas style fiddling, classical violin, and American string playing

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ABSTRACT

Classical violin playing and American fiddle music have traditionally been seen as separate musical worlds. Classical violinists practice and study long hours to master a standard repertoire of concertos

ABSTRACT

Classical violin playing and American fiddle music have traditionally been seen as separate musical worlds. Classical violinists practice and study long hours to master a standard repertoire of concertos and sonatas from the Western European school of art music. Fiddlers pride themselves on a rich tradition passed down through generations of informal jam sessions and innovation through improvisation. Mark O'Connor's Fiddle Concerto, premiered in 1993, sounds like a contradiction at first: a quintessential classical form combined with traditional fiddle playing. Examination of the Fiddle Concerto will show that the piece contains classical and fiddle-style elements simultaneously, creating an effective hybrid of the two styles. This document will explore how the history of the classical violin concerto and American fiddle music converge in Mark O'Connor's Fiddle Concerto. To gain an understanding of O'Connor's composition process, I submitted to him a list of questions, via email, in the summer of 2016. O'Connor’s responses provide a unique insight into the genesis of the Fiddle Concerto and his vision for musical compositions that originate from multiple genres. Chapter four of this document will discuss the melodic themes, formal makeup, and techniques presented in the Fiddle Concerto and show how both classical and fiddle elements coexist in the piece. The result of the mix is an exciting work that appeals to a broad audience of music lovers. The final chapter of this document will explore the growing repertoire of music created by cross-pollinating from different styles to create a new style, including selected O'Connor compositions completed since the Fiddle Concerto, as well as similar works by other composers who combined classical elements with other musical styles.

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  • 2016