The tango is really a combination of many cultures, though it eventually became the national music of Argentina.

— Yo-Yo Ma

The most memorable Yo-Yo Ma quotes that are life-changing and eye-opening

But an innovation, to grow organically from within, has to be based on an intact tradition, so our idea is to bring together musicians who represent all these traditions, in workshops, festivals, and concerts, to see how we can connect with each other in music.


Bach takes you to a very quiet place within yourself, to the inner core, a place where you are calm and at peace.


I have yet to find something that beats the power of being in love, or the power of music at its most magical.


When we enlarge our view of the world, we deepen our understanding of our own lives.


Our cultural strength has always been derived from our diversity of understanding and experience.


A Senegalese poet said 'In the end we will conserve only what we love.

We love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.' We must learn about other cultures in order to understand, in order to love, and in order to preserve our common world heritage.


Sharing is a much better way to communicate than proving.


In performance, we have a greater purpose.

The greater purpose is that we're communing together, and we want this moment to be really special for all of us. Because otherwise, why bother to have come at all? It's not about proving anything. It's about sharing something.


Music is one of the ways we can achieve a kind of shorthand to understand each other.


Culture opens our hearts to one another. And the currency in culture is not money, but trust.


The role of the musician is to go from concept to full execution.

Put another way, it's to go from understanding the content of something to really learning how to communicate it and make sure it's well-received and lives in somebody else.


When people ask me how they should approach performance, I always tell them the professional musician should aspire to the state of the beginner.


About Yo-Yo Ma

Quotes 43 sayings
Nationality American
Profession Musician
Birthday October 16

Things can fall apart, or threaten to, for many reasons, and then there's got to be a leap of faith. Ultimately, when you're at the edge, you have to go forward or backward; if you go forward, you have to jump together.


One is that you have to take time, lots of time, to let an idea grow from within. The second is that when you sign on to something, there will be issues of trust, deep trust, the way the members of a string quartet have to trust one another.


My teacher, my great cello teacher Leonard Rose, was such a great cellist, and nurturing man, very patient. But I grew up not only admiring him, but obviously Casals, Rostrotovich, Jacqueline du Pre, and many others, including many of my peers and contemporaries.


Good things happen when you meet strangers.


When you learn something from people, or from a culture, you accept it as a gift, and it is your lifelong commitment to preserve it and build on it.


I want to investigate different cultures, to see how their identities and values affect their music. It's one way I can get to know our world, at least to a certain depth.


I love grocery shopping when I'm home.

That's what makes me feel totally normal. I love both the idea of home as in being with my family and friends, and also the idea of exploration. I think those two are probably my great interests.


The thing that I've always been slightly frustrated with, was that the idea of a CD is kind of confined to a material possession that you can put on a shelf. And the idea of music, for me, is always about both the communication and the sharing of content. And so the interactive part is missing.


We may be coming to a new golden age of instrument making.


I don't always have a five-year plan.

One thing you must do in life is keep your learning curve as high as possible.


This middle age thing is a little weird.

Some friends and mentors are gone, and there's a very forward-looking new generation coming up behind me. So it's very much finding my own place.


One of the most interesting aspects of the film project was collaborating with so many people - directors, filmmakers, and writers - over a five-year period. I learned that there are two components to this.


Classical music is one of the best things that ever happened to mankind.

If you get introduced to it in the right way, it becomes your friend for life.


After reaching 50, I began to wonder what the root of life is.


The worst thing you can do is say to yourself, "I want to be just like somebody else." You have to absorb knowledge from someone else, but ultimately you have to find your own voice.


Nobody else can make the sound you make.


When your heart and your mind are engaged, you cannot go wrong.


I'm not likely to forget where I've been and what I've done and learned.

I think it's just as important to play new instruments as to play new pieces. The old ones are getting scarcer and the new ones more and more wonderful.


Many of the Central Asians know Russian, and Ted Levin speaks it fluently.

I speak Chinese, but Mongolian is completely different, so we had to have translators.


One of the marks of a great teacher lies not only in an ability to impart knowledge but also in knowing when to encourage a student to go off on his own.


I play an instrument that has four strings, and I'm still trying to get it right. What I've tried to do in the process of playing these four strings is to try and understand the people I meet, the stories they have to tell. And then become an advocate for them and their stories through music.


Music enhances the education of our children by helping them to make connections and broadening the depth with which they think and feel. If we are to hope for a society of culturally literate people, music must be a vital part of our children's education.


You must have a reason to be in the places to which you go, and you must do only things that you really care about.


Perfection is not very communicative


I learn something not because I have to, but because I really want to.

That's the same view I have for performing. I'm performing because I really want to, not because I have to bring bread back home.


Music has always been transnational.


Music has always been transnational; people pick up whatever interests them, and certainly a lot of classical music has absorbed influences from all over the world.


I've been traveling all over the world for 25 years, performing, talking to people, studying their cultures and musical instruments, and I always come away with more questions in my head than can be answered.


It took me way beyond what I knew, into places of which I was totally scared, but as I became less frightened, I welcomed new ways of thinking and approaching something. It made me an infinitely richer person, and I think a better musician.


Each day I move toward that which I do not understand.

The result is a continuous accidental learning which constantly shapes my life.