Minnesota music legend Peter Ostroushko dies at 67


Peter Ostroushko
Local musician Peter Ostroushko (Photo courtesy of the Artist)
Radio Heartland: Peter Ostroushko tribute program
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| 01:18:38

Celebrated fiddler, mandolinist and Minnesota music legend Peter Ostroushko has died. He was 67.

His family told MPR News he had been admitted to intensive care over the weekend and died of heart and breathing issues on Wednesday.

He is survived by his wife, Marge, and his daughter, Anna.

In 2013 Musical idol visits fiddler on his 100th
News Cut Peter Ostroushko sings 'You Are My Sunshine'
From 2006 'Postcards' from Peter Ostroushko

Ostroushko grew up in the Ukrainian community in northeast Minneapolis and was a lifelong musician. He said on his website that he picked up his father's mandolin at age 3 and never looked back. He grew up a student of the well-known Minneapolis folk and blues scene including Dave "Snaker" Ray, "Spider"John Koerner and Tony "Little Sun" Glover.

"Before I was even old enough to go to a bar, I used to go stand in front of the doorway of the Triangle Bar," he said of a West Bank landmark in a recent podcast. "During the summer months, they would have the door open, and I could look up on the stage and listen and hear the musicians play. … For me that was like going to church, standing out there, listening to these guys play music."

Ostroushko's career and range was widespread and eclectic. He was a regular on MPR's A Prairie Home Companion radio show for 40 years and served as its music director at one time. He also made appearances on television, on Austin City Limits, Late Night with David Letterman and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

He also played with both the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He toured with Robin and Linda Williams, Norman Blake and Chet Atkins and worked with music legends like Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson.

His first recording session was an uncredited mandolin passage on Bob Dylan's legendary "Blood on the Tracks" album, recorded partly in Minneapolis in 1974.

He issued more than a dozen albums of his own, the last in 2010. His music was also used in three Ken Burns documentaries, and a Twin Cities Public Television history of Minnesota -- the music for which earned Ostroushko a regional Emmy award.

Ostroushko suffered a stroke in 2018, which ended his playing career. He had recently been producing a podcast, "My Life and Time as a Radio Musician."

On Thursday, Feb. 25, starting at noon (Central), on Radio Heartland, Mike Pengra will host a tribute to the music and life of Peter Ostroushko. Listen on 91.1 FM HD2 in the Twin Cities, or by using The Current's free smartphone app, by telling your smart speaker to play Radio Heartland, or streaming here. Update, 2:42 p.m.: The Radio Heartland program is now archived and can be listened to in the audio player above.

This story first published on the MPR News website.

External Link

Peter Ostroushko - official site

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2 Photos

  • Peter Ostroushko, 2005
    Peter Ostroushko, 2005 (unknown)
  • Peter Ostroushko Lloyd Johnson
    Peter Ostroushko was the surprise guest at 100 year old Lloyd Johnson's birthday party in Woodbury. MPR Photo/Dan Olson 12/4/2013 (Olson, Dan)