Anne-Sophie Mutter

Anne-Sophie Mutter (born 29 June 1963) is a German violinist. She was supported early in her career by Herbert von Karajan, and has had several works composed especially for her, by Sebastian Currier, Henri Dutilleux, Sofia Gubaidulina, Witold Lutosławski, Norbert Moret, Krzysztof Penderecki, André Previn, Wolfgang Rihm,[1] John Williams and others.

Anne-Sophie Mutter
Anne-Sophie Mutter performs in Berlin, Germany in October 2013
Born (1963-06-29) 29 June 1963
Musical career
Years active1976 – present

Early life

Mutter was born in the German town of Rheinfelden, which lies some 15 km East of Basel on the northern bank of the High Rhine river, across which lies the Swiss town of the same name. She began playing the piano at the age of five, and shortly afterwards took up the violin. Inspired by a recording of violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Wilhelm Furtwängler, she began studying with Erna Honigberger, a pupil of Carl Flesch. After Honigberger's death she continued her studies with Aida Stucki at the Winterthur Conservatory.[2]


Mutter's playing began to receive attention and she stopped attending school to devote herself full time to music. Conductor Herbert von Karajan arranged for her to play with the Berlin Philharmonic. Only 13 years old at the time, she made her public debut on stage in 1976 at the Lucerne Festival, where she played Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major. In 1977, she performed at the Salzburg Festival and with the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim. At 15, Mutter made her first recording of the Mozart Third and Fifth violin concerti with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic.[2]

In 1980, Mutter made her American debut with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta. In 1985, at the age of 22, she was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Academy of Music (London) and head of its faculty of international violin studies and in 1986 an honorary member.[3] In 1988, she made a grand tour of Canada and the United States, playing for the first time at Carnegie Hall. In 1998 she played and recorded for CD and DVD the complete set of Beethoven's Violin Sonatas, accompanied by Lambert Orkis; these were broadcast on television in many countries.


Though her repertoire includes many classical works, Mutter is particularly known for her performances of contemporary music. Several pieces have been specially written for or dedicated to her, including Henri Dutilleux's Sur le même accord, Krzysztof Penderecki's Second Violin Concerto, Witold Lutosławski's Chain 2 and the orchestral version of Partita, and Wolfgang Rihm's Gesungene Zeit ("Time Chant"), Lichtes Spiel, and Dyade. In August 2007, she premiered Sofia Gubaidulina's Violin Concerto No. 2 "In tempus praesens." She has received various prizes, including several Grammys.

In October 2006, on French television, Mutter appeared to indicate that she would be retiring when she turned 45, in 2008.[4] However the following month she said that her words were "misinterpreted" and that she would continue to play as long as she felt she could "bring anything new, anything important, anything different to music".[5]


Mutter is known for appearing on stage wearing elegant strapless gowns. Mutter found that fabric was too slippery to provide the traction that she needed while playing.[6]

She also received advice on her appearance from Karajan who insisted she have her hair styled and that she "go to Paris and get a decent dress". Around 18 years of age she purchased a few dresses (on sale) from Chanel and had them shortened: "That’s when my love for custom-made started". She has also worn Givenchy. She used to wear John Galliano of Dior, but severed ties after an "anti-Semitic outburst".[6] She currently wears dresses by Nicholas Oakwell.[7] Mutter prefers red, orange and green colors because they match her Stradivarius violin.[6]


She owns two Stradivarius violins: The Emiliani of 1703, and the Lord Dunn-Raven Stradivarius of 1710. She also owns a Finnigan-Klaembt dated 1999 and a Regazzi dated 2005.[8] Discussing her Stradivariuses, Mutter has said:[2]

A Stradivari is always special as a piece of sublime craftsmanship, but what sets these instruments apart is their capacity to carry even the softest of pianissimos to the very last row of any hall. I particularly love the unlimited scope of colours my violin is able to show, as well as the tiger-like roaring G-string … It is the best instrument I could have, with its own personality. But it is sensitive to abrupt temperature changes—well, it is 300 years old.

Personal life

In 1989, Mutter married her first husband, Detlef Wunderlich, with whom she had two children, Arabella and Richard. Wunderlich died of cancer in 1995.[9] She dedicated her 1999 recording, Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, to his memory.[10] She married the pianist and conductor André Previn in 2002.[11] The couple divorced in 2006,[12] but continued to collaborate musically and maintained their friendship.[13]

Awards and recognition


  1. Carnegie Hall Playbill, November 11, 2014, p. 38.
  2. "LSO International Violin Festival: Meet Anne-Sophie Mutter". Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  3. "Honorary Members of the Royal Academy of Music (Oct.14, 2009)". Royal Academy of Music. 14 October 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
  4. Perkins, David (2006-11-14). "Mutter still takes her music seriously". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-05-03. Yes, yes, I said it. It is my plan to stop when I reach my 45th birthday.
  5. Brookes, Stephen (19 November 2006). "Violinist Mutter, Revving Her Motor". Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-11-21.
  6. Hoffman, Barbara (March 1, 2018). "Why this violinist only wears strapless ball gowns". New York Post. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  7. " interview with Anne-Sophie Mutter". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  8. Kjemtrup, Inge (January 2006). "Goddess with a Gift". Strings (135). Every tragedy, or every really wonderful moment in your life, changes you as a person, and hopefully makes you a better person, more sensible, more sensitive, more caring — more thankful for life.
  9. Liner Notes, Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (Deutsche Grammophon, 1999): 3.
  10. "Previn weds Anne-Sophie Mutter". BBC News. 4 August 2002.
  11. "Conductor André Previn to divorce". BBC News. 21 August 2006.
  12. Barbara Jepson (2008-11-25). "The Reigning Diva of the Violin Embraces Contemporary Music". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2014-12-16.
  13. Obermeyer, Justus (27 August 2018). "Wie Anne-Sophie Mutter vor 30 Jahren Ehrenbürgerin von Wehr wurde". Südkurier (in German). Konstanz. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  14. "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF). (in German). p. 1266. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  15. "Anne-Sophie Mutter wins top award". BBC News. 15 June 2003.
  16. "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF). (in German). p. 1790. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  17. "News in brief - Gemini - Research news from NTNU and SINTEF". Archived from the original on 23 February 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-30. Retrieved 2012-08-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. "IEFG Award Ceremony 2011". (in German). Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  20. "Anne-Sophie Mutter erhält Gustav-Adolf-Preis". Klassik Magazin. 2011-11-22. Retrieved 2014-12-16.
  21. "Towarzystwo im. Witolda Lutosławskiego". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  22. "Press Releases - American Academy of Arts & Sciences". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  23. "Anne-Sophie Mutter celebrates Keble Honorary Fellowship". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  24. "Fundación Albéniz. Otros programas. Premio Yehudi Menuhin". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  25. "Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  26. "Lista laureatów medalu Zasłużony Kulturze - Gloria Artis". Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  27. Snapes, Laura (13 February 2019). "Grandmaster Flash and Anne-Sophie Mutter win 2019 Polar Music prize". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  28. Cullingford, Martin (17 September 2019). "Anne-Sophie Mutter receives Praemium Imperiale Award". Gramophone. London. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
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