Mutter was born in the German town of Rheinfelden, Baden-Württemberg 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. Her parents were Karl Wilhelm Mutter and Gerlinde Mutter and she was raised with two older brothers. While Mutter's father was a journalist, who edited a newspaper in Baden-Württemberg, her mother was the first woman in her family to graduate from college. Although no one in her family played a musical instrument, Mutter's family was passionate about classical music.
Mutter began playing the piano at the age of five, and shortly afterwards took up the violin. At the age of six, Mutter won the National Music Prize, and in 1972, she gave her first concert with the Winterthurer Stadtorchester. 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.
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 28 and 29 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.
Throughout her career, Mutter has held many benefit concerts for various organizations such as Save the Children Japan, Save the Children Yemen, Artists against Aids, the Swiss Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Hanna and Paul Gräb Foundation’s Haus der Diakonie in Wehr-Öflingen, the Bruno Bloch Foundation, Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children, SOS Children’s Villages in Syria and others. Since March 2022, Mutter has been giving benefit concerts for Ukrainians in light of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Mutter founded the Association of Friends of the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation e.V. in 1997 and further established the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation in 2008, which supports young stringed instrument players and provides scholarships for talented individuals.
In 2021, Anne-Sophie Mutter was elected president of the German Cancer Aid.
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.
^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.