Photo by Stephen Danelian. Courtesy of Indiana University.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma was born on October 7, 1955 in Paris, France.  Most likely, you’ve heard of Yo-Yo Ma, as he’s one of the most well-known classical musicians alive. The child prodigy began playing the cello at age 4 and was already performing publicly by age 5. He even played for Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy when he was only 7 years old! Yo-Yo Ma attended Trinity School in NYC, before transferring to the Professional Children’s School and graduating at age 15. He went on to study at Juilliard, Columbia, then Harvard where he received his Bachelor’s degree in 1976.

So how would you recognize Yo-Yo Ma?  In addition to many media appearances on television, he’s been featured on many soundtracks, including Seven Years in Tibet; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; and Memoirs of a Geisha. You probably saw him performing with Itzhak Perlman at President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration!  He was also the first performer on September 11, 2002 at the site of the World Trade Center, when the names of those killed were read on the first anniversary of the attack.

In honor of his special day, watch a few of Yo-Yo Ma’s performances that showcase his talent:

1.  Libertango (Pizzolla)- One of my favorite Argentine tangos!

2. The Swan (Saint-Saëns)- Relax with this soothing piece from Carnival of the Animals.

3. Cello Suite No. 1 (Bach)- Does this music sound familiar? This is probably the most recognized solo piece for cello, used heavily in television and film.

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