Featured piece


Portrait of Yo-Yo Ma by Louisa Bertman


e’ve all heard the Lullaby, probably since we were babies, but did you know it was written after a fling between German composer Johannes Brahms and his girlfriend, Bertha?

On their walks together, Bertha used to sing an Austrian folk song called S’is Anderscht which became “their song.” The two remained friends even after their romance ended. In fact, Brahms wrote his Lullaby as a gift to Bertha’s second child, with the same Austrian folk song hidden in the countermelody. (We’re not sure how her husband felt about that.)

Today’s featured performer is cellist Yo-Yo Ma, one of the most well-known classical musicians around. Born in Paris to musical parents, Ma was a child prodigy who was giving public performances by the time he was in kindergarten. By age 7, he was performing for President John F. Kennedy. He went on to attend the Juilliard School and Harvard University, win 18 Grammy Awards along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and serve as the United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Now, he is being featured on Hello Classical. Finally, something he can be proud of 🙂

Now in his 60’s, Ma continues to perform today. In the clip below, he is accompanied by longtime collaborator Kathryn Stott, a highly accomplished British pianist in her own right. We love this video for its intimacy – it’s like being a fly on the wall as two friends play for their own enjoyment.


Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Kathryn Stott (piano)
Composition: Johannes Brahms, “Wiegenlied” (“Lullaby”), Op. 49 #4

To learn more about what Ma has been up to, see this recent New York Times article.

View image license for “Portrait of Yo-Yo Ma” illustration

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