Anne-Sophie Mutter - Biography
Anne-Sophie Mutter has been recognised as one of the world’s greatest violinists for more than 35 years. Her artistry embraces everything from richness of tone and consummate technical virtuosity to transcendent expression and profound musicianship. Music was a natural part of her upbringing. Born in the German border town of Rheinfelden, she showed signs of exceptional talent at an early age. Anne-Sophie began to study piano at the age of five; soon after, she received her first violin lessons from Erna Honigberger, a pupil of Carl Flesch. At the age of nine she commenced studies with Aïda Stucki, one of Switzerland’s finest musicians and an inspirational teacher.
In 1976 Herbert von Karajan heard the 13-year-old Mutter in recital at the Lucerne Festival. The legendary conductor subsequently engaged the young violinist to make her concerto debut with the Berlin Philharmonic at the 1977 Salzburg Whitsun Festival. Their partnership continued in1978 when Mutter made her first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, an album of Mozart’s Violin Concertos Nos. 3 and 5. In the early years of her international career, Mutter collaborated regularly with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic to create a landmark series of recordings of violin concertos by Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch and Mendelssohn for the Yellow Label. She swiftly became an established presence at the world’s leading concert halls, a position reinforced by the critical and public response to her debuts in Berlin (1978), Washington and New York (1980), Tokyo (1981) and Moscow (1985) and by the breadth of her activities as recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician.
In 1986 Mutter was appointed International Chair in Violin Studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The following year she founded the Rudolf Eberle Trust to support the development of outstandingly gifted young string players throughout Europe. The initiative’s reach extended worldwide in 1997 after it was incorporated into the Friends of the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation. Mutter’s commitment to the promotion of young musicians has helped launch the careers of many fine artists, Daniel Müller-Schott, Sergey Khachatryan and Roman Patkoló among them. The Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation also supports Mutter Virtuosi, an ensemble comprising fourteen of the organisation’s former and current scholarship holders. Her Foundation has commissioned André Previn’s Concerto for Violin and Double-bass, Krzysztof Penderecki’s Duo concertante and Wolfgang Rihm’s Dyade. In 2013 she gave the world premiere of Stefan Currier’s Ringtone Variations, commissioned by the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation for the Mutter Virtuosi’s Asian tour.
Anne-Sophie Mutter’s commitment to the future of string playing is clearly present in her wholehearted championship of contemporary music. In 1986 she gave the first performance of Chain II, written for her and the Paul Sacher Foundation by Witold Lutosławski, and recorded the work for Deutsche Grammophon. Her tally of world premiere performances includes Rihm’s Gesungene Zeit, Penderecki’s Second Violin Concerto Metamorphosen and Violin Sonata, Dutilleux’s Sur le même accord, Gubaidulina’s Violin Concerto In tempus praesens, Previn’s Violin Concerto “Anne-Sophie” and Currier’s Aftersong and Time Machines. She has recorded these and many other new works for the Yellow Label, together with such monuments of the 20th-century repertoire as Berg’s and Stravinsky’s Violin Concertos and Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto. Mutter won the Grammy® Award for “Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra)” three times, respectively for her recordings of Berg’s Violin Concerto and Rihm’s Gesungene Zeit (1994), Penderecki’s Metamorphosen (1999), and Previn’s Violin Concerto and Bernstein’s Serenade (2005). Mutter’s schedule for 2013/14 includes the world premiere performances of Previn’s Second Violin Sonata and Penderecki’s “La Follia” for solo violin.
In the closing years of the 1990s, Mutter recorded Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with the Trondheim Soloists and Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas with her regular duo partner Lambert Orkis. The latter went on to win Grammy® and Echo Awards, while her Vivaldi album attracted critical acclaim and sold over 370,000 copies worldwide. She began the new millennium with a series of touring and recording projects, including Back to the Future, a retrospective look at major works from the 20th-century violin repertoire, and Recital 2000, an album of chamber works by Crumb, Prokofiev, Respighi and Webern. In 2001 Mutter performed Mozart’s complete violin concertos in two evenings as artist-in-residence at Carnegie Hall and with the Vienna Philharmonic in Vienna and on tour in Germany. Previn’s Tango Song and Dance, dedicated to and premiered by Mutter, formed the core of the violinist’s eponymous recital album and touring programme in 2003. Her recordings with Previn as conductor include award-winning accounts of his Violin Concerto “Anne-Sophie” and a pairing of the violin concertos by Korngold and Tchaikovsky (Echo Award 2005 for “Instrumentalist of the Year”). Mutter turned to Mozart in 2006 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth with international tours and complete recordings of his sonatas and concertos for violin.
Highlights of recent seasons include the world premiere of Rihm’s Lichtes Spiel with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (2010); performances and a complete recording of Brahms’s Violin Sonatas with Lambert Orkis; artist-in-residence concerts and chamber music recitals with the New York Philharmonic; an album of first recordings of works by Rihm, Currier and Penderecki (2011), and the release of ASM35, a 40-disc box set of Mutter’s complete recordings for Deutsche Grammophon (2011) issued to mark the 35th anniversary of her professional debut. In June 2013, Mutter and the Berlin Philharmonic came together at the Berlin Philharmonie, to make their first studio album in 30 years: Mutter’s first recording of Dvořák’s Violin Concerto is scheduled for release in October 2013. Mutter is set to perform the Czech composer’s romantic masterwork with Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony on tour in Europe this September and again with the New York Philharmonic towards the year’s close. This December she marks the silver jubilee of her artistic partnership with Lambert Orkis with a recital at Carnegie Hall.
Anne-Sophie Mutter has for long used her public profile to support and promote charitable causes, notably those associated with the alleviation of medical and social problems. Her benefit concerts have raised funds for, among other organisations, Save the Children Japan, the Swiss Multiple Sclerosis Society, victims of the 2011 Japanese tsunami and nuclear energy disasters, and the Association des amis de la maison de Solenn in Paris. Other recent benefit projects have included fundraising concerts for the Hanna and Paul Gräb Foundation’s Haus der Diakonie in Wehr-Öflingen, Artists against Aids in the United States and for a number of Romanian orphanages.
Mutter’s many awards and honours reflect the nature of her humanitarian work as well as the excellence of her artistry. She received the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize in 2008, the Légion d’honneur in 2009 for services to contemporary French music and the 2011 Erich-Fromm-Preis for the advancement of Humanism through social engagement. Other honours include the Merit Cross 1st Class of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Mendelssohn and Brahms prizes, the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize and the Bavarian Order of Merit. In October 2013 Anne-Sophie Mutter will be inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences as a Foreign Honorary Member.