At only four years old, Yeou-Cheng Ma exhibited a clear talent for the violin.
Under the tutelage of her father, a Ph.D. student at the Paris Conservatory of Music, Yeou-Cheng began to play the instrument at two-and-a-half years old. Only a year later, she entered in her first competition against students ranging from fourteen to nineteen years old. She won.
Her violin teacher praised Yeou-Cheng’s ability to her mother, a vocal student who later sang opera. She said, “Your daughter is a brilliant musician. There’s no doubt in my mind that she inherits this talent from you and your husband…It’s in her genes.”
Finally, the teacher added: “Mrs. Ma, what I’m trying to tell you is that I think it is a great pity that you don’t plan on having another child.”
At the time, the three of them lived in a tiny apartment in Paris. They struggled to earn a living and had barely enough for themselves. Yet, four years after the birth of their daughter, a son was born in 1955. He was named Yo-Yo Ma.