Mutter, Anne-Sophie

Mutter, Anne-Sophie
▪ 2000

      Recordings of the Beethoven sonatas by German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, with pianist Lambert Orkis, were released in 1999 to critical acclaim. The recordings had been made live the previous August in Wiesbaden, Ger., one of a series of performances of the works the two gave in Europe and the United States during 1998.

      Mutter was born on June 29, 1963, in Rheinfelden in what was then West Germany. She began piano lessons at the age of five but after a few months switched to the violin. At the age of six, after only a year of study, she won first prize with special distinction in violin in a national competition for young musicians and with her brother Christoph took a prize for the performance of a piano piece for four hands. When four years later she once more won first prize in the violin competition, she was asked not to enter again. The conductor Herbert von Karajan, who became an early mentor, first heard her in 1976, and in 1977, at the age of 13, she made her professional debut with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. As she began the transition from child prodigy to adult virtuoso, her career was managed by her father, who strictly limited her appearances, but she later played 100 or more concerts a year.

      Mutter appeared with orchestras throughout the world, played in chamber groups, and gave solo recitals. Her repertoire included the standard violin works of the 19th and 20th centuries, but she also performed and recorded a number of pieces by contemporary composers. She gave the premieres of Chain 2: Dialogue for Violin and Orchestra and of Partita for Violin and Orchestra with Piano Obbligato by Witold Lutoslawski, a composer with whom she was especially identified, as well as the second violin concerto of Krzysztof Penderecki, which was written for her. She received many awards and honours for her recordings, including the Grand Prix du Disque and a Grammy. She was only 10 when she first gave lessons on the violin, and in 1985 she assumed the International Chair of Violin Studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She also established a foundation to support young European string players.

      Striking in personal appearance, Mutter favoured low-cut designer gowns for her concert appearances, and she projected a glamorous image from the stage. As a violinist, she had an impeccable technique, and she produced a sound known for its beauty and coloration. She was sometimes criticized for idiosyncratic, even willful, interpretations of the standard repertoire, but there was no doubt that she was one of the superstars of the classical music world.

Robert Rauch

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Universalium. 2010.