5 Irish Fiddle Players You Need To Hear
For our first list of important Irish musicians, we've compiled short introductions to five historical Irish fiddle players that remain influential to this day. Although these musicians recorded on early recording media -- wax cylinders and 78rpm discs -- the richness and depth of the music they recorded is still present years later for us to study and learn.
Edward Cronin (c. 1838 - c. 1918)
Edward Cronin became an important teacher of Irish music in Chicago during the later 1800s. He was born in County Tipperary and was already in demand as a musician while still a child. Cronin also became known as a composer of dance tunes, including hornpipes for two of Francis O'Neill's children, "Rogers O'Neill's" and "Caroline O'Neills." He was O'Neill's original editor for Dance Music of Ireland but was replaced by James O'Neill.
Take a listen to Edward Cronin's version of "Banish Misfortune" from the Dunn Family Collection. Francis O'Neill cited Cronin as the source for the notated version of the tune in Music of Ireland.
John McFadden (c. 1847 - c. 1913)
John McFadden was another revered fiddle player in Franics O'Neill's Chicago Irish music circle. McFadden was born in County Mayo around 1847 and learned fiddle from his family. After moving to Chicago, he and uilleann piper James Early performed as a duo for concerts and dancing competitions. John McFadden also composed various tunes, including "Queen of the Fair."
Michael Coleman (1891 - 1945)
Michael Coleman produced some of the most influential Irish music recordings and continues to influence generations of musicians. Born in County Sligo, Coleman learned the fiddle and step dancing as a child. He immigrated to the United States in 1914. Coleman performed on the vaudeville circuit before settling in New York in 1917. Between 1921 and 1936, he recorded over 80 commercial recordings on 78 rpm discs. Michael Coleman’s technical capabilities and musical expression inspire Irish musicians to this day.
James Morrison (1893 - 1947)
James Morrison was another proponent of the Sligo style of fiddle playing and became an important teacher of Irish music. Born near Riverstown, County Sligo, Morrison learned Irish tunes from his brothers and other local musicians and was taught dancing by his uncle. He immigrated to Boston in 1915, later settling in New York where he started recording in 1921. Morrison recorded over ninety 78rpm discs as a soloist as well as in various duet and band settings. He also played accordion and flute, and, in addition to performing, Morrison became a successful teacher of Irish traditional music in New York.
Paddy Killoran (1904 - 1965)
Paddy Killoran was another highly regarded fiddle player from County Sligo. Born near Ballymote, Killoran immigrated to New York in the 1920s and studied with both Michael Coleman and James Morrison. Killoran also recorded around eighty 78rpm discs as a soloist, in duets with fellow fiddler Paddy Sweeney, and in various larger ensemble formats.
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Here's a handy list of the jigs, reels, polkas, and other Irish tunes played during the January 2016 Family Session.