(m. 1989; died 1995)
(m. 2002; div. 2006)
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, John Williams and others.
Mutter was born in the German town of Rheinfelden, which lies some 15 kilometres (9 mi) 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 violinist 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.
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.
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. 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.
In October 2006, on French television, Mutter appeared to indicate that she would be retiring when she turned 45, in 2008. 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".
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." Her ex husband, conductor and composer André Previn, dedicated his Violin Concerto "Anne-Sophie" (2001) to her; they recorded the pièce with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2003 and were awarded a Grammy for the recording in 2005.
World renowned film score composer and five times Academy Awards winner John Williams composed original music for her, including a pièce for violin, strings and harp called "Markings" (2017), a collection of arrangements of movie themes composed by him for violin and orchestra (recorded by Mutter and Williams with the Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles in "Across the Stars", 2019) and Williams' second violin concerto (composed 2021, to be recorded by Mutter with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the author as conductor, in 2022). Mutter also appeared as soloist in John Williams' debut concert with the Wiener Philharmoniker on 28th and 29th January 2020, recorded by Deutsche Grammophon and released in the live album "John Williams in Vienna", which became the best-selling album of orchestral music in 2020.
She has received various prizes, including several Grammys throughout her career and the Polar Music Prize and the Praemium Imperiale, both in 2019.
Mutter is known for appearing on stage wearing elegant strapless gowns. Mutter found that fabric on her shoulder was too slippery to hold her violin firmly while she was playing.
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" by him. She currently wears dresses by Nicholas Oakwell. Mutter prefers red, orange and green colors because they match her Stradivarius violin.
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. Discussing her Stradivariuses, Mutter has said:
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.
In 1989, Mutter married her first husband, Detlef Wunderlich, with whom she had two children, Arabella and Richard. Wunderlich died of cancer in 1995. She dedicated her 1999 recording, Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, to his memory. She married the pianist, composer, and conductor André Previn in 2002. The couple divorced in 2006, but continued to collaborate musically and maintained their friendship.
On 26 March 2020, Mutter announced that she was tested positive for COVID-19.
Yes, yes, I said it. It is my plan to stop when I reach my 45th birthday.
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.