Yo-Yo Ma

Ralph Daily / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Chinese-American Cellist • Born 1955 • European Classical Music

Fast Facts

  • Yo-Yo Ma was born in Paris but moved to the USA when he was seven.
  • Both of his parents were Chinese.
  • Yo-Yo Ma’s first cello teacher was his father.
  • Yo-Yo Ma graduated from Harvard with a degree in anthropology (the study of human beings and society)
  • He has won many awards during his lifetime including including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the Glenn Gould Prize (1999), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Dan David Prize (2006), the Leonie Sonning Music Prize (2006), the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award (2008), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), Kennedy Center Honors (2011), the Polar Music Prize (2012), the Vilcek Prize in Contemporary Music (2013), and the J. Paul Getty Medal Award (2016). 
  • Yo-Yo Ma performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony in 2009
  • In addition to recordings of famous works, Yo-Yo Ma is known for his collaborations with other musicians and artists including Bobby McFerrin and James Taylor.
  • Yo-Yo Ma plays a cello nicknamed “Petunia,” created by Domenico Montagnana in 1733. It is valued at $2.5 million