Marko Ylönen has performed in as many different roles as almost any other cellist from his generation: soloist, orchestral player and principal, string quartet member, freelance player in duos and trios, and teacher. He has also been a winner and prizewinner in major competitions and a prolific recording artist. Not surprisingly, Ylönen's repertory is broad, taking in a range of works by C.P.E. Bach, Boccherini, Vivaldi, Haydn, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Sibelius, Piazzolla, and especially contemporary Finnish composers like Einojuhani Rautavaara, Joonas Kokkonen, Jouni Kaipainen, Ralf Gothóni, Olli Mustonen, and many others. Ylönen has concertized throughout Europe, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. He has recorded for several labels, including Ondine, Finlandia, and BIS.
Marko Ylönen was born in Rantasalmi, Finland, on June 11, 1966. He was a student of Csaba Szilvay at the East Helsinki Music Institute and of Heikki Rautasalo and Erkki Rautio at the Helsinki-based Sibelius Academy. From 1985-1989 Ylönen had further studies in Basel, Switzerland, with cello virtuoso Heinrich Schiff.
1990 was a breakthrough year for Ylönen: he captured second prize at the Turku Scandinavian Cello Competition and was a prizewinner at the Moscow-based Tchaikovsky International Competition. That same year he began a season-long stint as principal cellist for the Tapiola Sinfonietta.
Ylönen began teaching at the Sibelius Academy in 1991 and from that year until 1993, he performed with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra as first solo cellist. Among Ylönen's first recordings was a 1994 Ondine CD of Rautavaara's Op. 41 Cello Concerto. From 1995-2001 Ylönen served as cellist with the New Helsinki Quartet. Meanwhile, he won the 1996 New York City-based Concert Artist Guild Competition.
Ylönen became a tenured teacher at the Sibelius Academy in 2000 and would go on to become a professor there in 2009. In 2003, the busy Ylönen appeared with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra for the premiere of a work he had commissioned, Jouni Kaipainen's Cello Concerto.
In 2004 Ylönen served as artistic director of the Korsholm Music Festival in Western Finland. Ylönen was soloist on the acclaimed 2006 Ondine CD of the cello concerto by Peteris Vasks, with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra. Ylönen returned as artistic director of the 2008 Korsholm Music Festival, then again in 2010 and 2011. Among Ylönen's more successful recordings is his 2010 Alba CD of sonatas by Chopin and Rachmaninov, with pianist Arto Satukangas.