Happy birthday Yo-Yo Ma!



Yo-Yo Ma (born October 7, 1955) is an American cellist. He has performed on many high-profile political occasions, recorded several film scores, and recorded over 75 albums, 15 of which have won Grammys.


Ma was born in Paris, France to Marina Lu and Hiao-Tsiun Ma. His family is of Chinese ancestry. Both of his parents were musicians, his mother a singer and his father a violinist and professor of music. He studied violin and viola before settling on cello at the age of four. When Ma was five years old, his family moved to New York.


Ma was performing by the age of five, and performed for Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy by the age of seven. He attended Trinity School in New York and then the Professional Children's School, graduating at 15. He went on to study at the Juilliard School, and then Columbia University, but he dropped out. He finally received his bachelor's degree in 1976 from Harvard University.

Throughout his academic development, Ma continued to grow at an astounding pace in his musical career. Before entering university, he had already appeared as a soloist with the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra in a performance of the Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations.





In 1983, he first recorded Johann Sebastian Bach's Cello Suites, some of his most famous recordings to date. He re-recorded the same from 1994-1997. Other recordings include Great Cello Concertos (1989), Brahms: Sonatas for Cello & Piano (1992), Made in America (1993) and Soul of the Tango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla (1997). Later projects include Simply Baroque II — Bach & Boccherini (2000), Classic Yo-Yo (2001), Obrigado Brazil (2003) and The Goat Rodeo Sessions (2011).


Ma has won a total of 15 Grammys.

Ma's playing can be heard on many film soundtracks including Seven Years in Tibet (1997). Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), and on Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003). In 2005, Ma collaborated with John Williams on Memoirs of a Geisha. Notably, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon won Best Original Score at the Academy Awards.


In 2010, Ma was named Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Ma has been the artistic director of the Silk Road Project since 1998, when he founded it. The organization is dedicated to promoting the study of the cultural, artistic and intellectual traditions along the ancient Silk Road trade route.



Ma performed with Condoleezza Rice at the presentation of the 2001 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal Awards, at which he was also a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. In 2002, he performed on the first anniversary of September 11th, at the name-reading ceremony at the site of the World Trade Center. In 2011, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2012, he won the Polar Music Prize.


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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Tuesday, 07 October 2014
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