Yo Yo Ma, 65 today

Yo Yo Ma, 65 today


norman lebrecht

October 07, 2020

Happy cake day for the Chinese-American cellist, who’s everyone’s friend.

Except Trump’s, maybe.


  • Larry says:

    May his artistry continue for many years to come!

  • Karl says:

    Do any musicians like Trump except for Ted Nugent and Kid Rock?

    • V. Lind says:

      Kanye — if he is a musician.

    • Nathaniel Rosen says:

      Do you mean that if you don’t vote for Biden “you ain’t a musician?”

    • Clevelander says:

      You forgot the inimitable Kanye West.

    • Fred Funk says:

      There are Viola players that like Trump.

    • Bruce says:

      Oh, probably.

    • Gustavo says:

      Possibly only trumpeters.

    • Gustavo says:

      America needs to remember this!


    • Nick says:

      Hate to disappoint you: there are many who are pro-Trump!! And they are not exactly stupid people either!

      • E Rand says:

        Of course there are. The Left doesn’t realize that many of their friends and colleagues are conservatives who are afraid to say so. Why are they afraid? They want to preserve said friendships, or their jobs and lives from those that worship at the altar of “diversity” and “inclusion” so long as that diversity doesn’t include conservative values. They know the hatred that awaits them if they diverge from Leftist dogma.

        • njl says:

          Plenty of my friends and colleagues are conservative. I respect them and debate policy with them. I do not have friends and colleagues who are fans of trump. That is a very different mindset from “conservative”, and one that requires willful ignorance of facts.

          • E Rand says:

            Trump is at 90-something% approval in the republican party. If you have plenty of conservative friends, then they, statistically, support Trump but are afraid to tell you.

      • J says:

        Now that the ineptitude of the Trump administration, in its of the handing the COVID crisis, has decimated the live music industry, I wonder how many performing artists, who may have had some perverse attachment to him and his minions, feel now? And it’s not about being stupid; it’s about seeing things as single issue, not realizing that Team Trump knows this and plays off of people’s fears and emotions.

      • C. Thomson says:

        First thing: Happy Birthday Yo Yo Ma!

        As for Trump: Not exactly stupid, perhaps, though dubious, but certainly not specifically smart: one either has emotional intelligence and can thus recognize a defective personality, or one does not have it, and thus cannot recognize a defective personality.

        Trump’s personality disorder has all the hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which causes him to be fundamentally at odds with ‘normal’ persons because he literally cannot understand other people except to use them for his personal gratification, which is to make him believe he is better than everyone else or he has no use for you.

        The man accept white supremacists in the white house.

        The man presided over the separation of toddlers from their mothers.

        The man has been proven to have lied more than twenty thousand times since taking office.

        Since when is it ‘not exactly stupid’ to follow a person like that?

      • Geoff says:

        Too many!

    • Westfan says:

      Trumpy, a man who has never loved anyone, no love or appreciation for any of the arts, no empathy or compassion for his fellow man, whose idea of good taste is a gold plated toilet? I cannot wait for Election Day. He will get everything that is coming to him, if he lives long enough.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Felicitations to the great cellist, Silk Roader, and humanitarian, and a reminder that Pablo Casals was 65 when he began recording Bach’s cello suites for HMV.

    I’m grateful to YoMama for making possible all the jokes about the YoYo-JaJa-Nono Trio.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      At the risk of offending, and perhaps this joke has long passed its prime. Most of mine have.

      Many of you may know, or know of, the excellent pianist James Dick, a Clifford Curzon pupil and closely associated with the respected Round Top Festival Institute which he founded. So the joke, told to me in all seriousness by someone who I knew had played at Round Top … that one year it included an all star piano trio with Yo-Yo Ma and Czech virtuoso Josef Suk. It was known as — again I apologize for this — the Suk-Ma-Dick Trio. [Insert groan here.]

      Of course the impossibility of the joke is listing the violinist’s name first. When Jascha Heifetz suggested such a billing for the “Million Dollar Trio” Rubinstein told him “Jascha, even if you were God, it would still be the Rubinstein-God-Piatigorsky Trio.” Which reminds me of another bad joke I will tell someday.

      But speaking of Yo Yo Ma, many many years ago when the Milwaukee Symphony had open rehearsals (for $1, later increased), Leonard Rose was engaged to play the Elgar Concerto and my parents went to the rehearsal (I was away at school) to hear Rose. They were disappointed to learn that Rose was unavailable so what they heard was a rehearsal of the Elgar orchestra part only and the other music on the program. As it happens Rose was ill or otherwise indisposed, and his pupil Yo Yo Ma, maybe not yet 20, filled in at the last minute, with no rehearsal, and as I recall he had never played the Elgar with orchestra before. Oh yes … and the local public television station was televising the concert! No pressure there … the telecast, which I did get to see, was marvelous, and if I remember right Ma played from memory. I think Kenneth Schermerhorn was conducting. I assume someone somewhere has a tape.

      • Nick2 says:

        Ma is an outstanding artist in so many ways. And one of nicest and kindest musicians in the business. I hope he had a wonderful birthday with his family and friends. I also hope a recording of that Milwaukee Elgar exists. Kenneth Schermerhorn was a marvelous Conductor.

  • MezzoLover says:

    As he once told Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, his name (馬友友 in Chinese) means, literally, friendly (友) horse (馬).

    Doubly friendly horse, to be exact.

  • Bill Blake says:

    One of the most beloved musicians of all time

  • Sixtus says:

    Best wishes to Yo-Yo, a college classmate of mine. When we were both so very young.

    • Stuart says:

      He was Harvard ’76. I was in college at the time in Boston and first heard his playing when he was in the orchestra for a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. 1975 I am guessing (oh, we were all so young.)

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Happy birthday, Maestro. Long may the music continue.

  • Elizabeth says:

    It’s fun to share a birthday with such a remarkable man!

  • Freddynyc says:

    Probably the most overrated musician of our times. However youngsters today should take notes from him on networking and self-promotion……

  • Paganono says:

    Yo-yo played for President Reagan, so he’s got some explaining to do.

    • Tim says:

      He also played for Steve Jobs (a man who never donated and had 14 year old slaves in china throwing themselves off of factory balconies to make his products, working 10 cents a day for 14 hours a day).
      Winners celebrate winners!

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Happy Birthday, Maestro Yo-Yo Ma!
    May you live a long, healthy, and musical life!
    A thousand bravos to you!!!!

    • Greg Bottini says:

      I can certainly understand why some of my comments are downvoted.
      But THIS one?
      To the anonymous downvoter(-s): what is wrong with you?

  • Ruben Greenberg says:

    Eternally young.

  • Gini Kleinfelter says:

    What the world needs now is more Yo Yo Ma spreading love and beauty. Happy Birthday.

  • Alexander T says:

    Very overrated IMO. All the emoting and facial contortions don’t help either.

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    Fun fact: he was stuck in my town of Colorado Springs on 9/11. The show went on. He’s a mensch.

  • Thank you brother Yo Yo. I feel better already. Beautiful!

  • Polly says:

    Happy belated birthday to one of the nicest guys in the business