Happy Birthday, Anne-Sophie Mutter!
With a 47-year professional career, Mutter is a four-time GRAMMY Award-winner and regarded worldwide as one of today’s most eminent virtuosos
Beginning her illustrious career at the age of 13, German violin virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter has since performed all over the world and recorded over 50 albums.
To celebrate her birthday, the STAGE+ platform will stream the artist’s forthcoming performance with Mutter’s Virtuosi at the Vienna Musikverein, as well as host a wide-ranging selection of video-on-demand content, covering her work with her mentor Herbert von Karajan in the early 80s and her recent collaborations with film composer John Williams.
Recently, Mutter is featured on the soundtrack of the new movie, "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny," performing “Helena’s Theme” which was specially written for her by John Williams.
An avid champion of contemporary music, she has given world premieres of 31 works dedicated to her by composers including John Williams, Thomas Adès, Unsuk Chin, Sebastian Currier, Henri Dutilleux, Sofia Gubaidulina, Witold Lutoslawski, and Sir André Previn.
She has provided scholarships for numerous emerging artists through her foundation and helped launch the careers of Daniel Müller-Schott, Sergey Khachatryan, Roman Patkoló, Leonard Elschenbroich, and VC Artist Kian Soltani, among others.
Born in 1963 in Rheinfelden, a German border town, Mutter began piano lessons at age five and received her first violin lessons from Erna Honigberger, who was a pupil of famed pedagogue Carl Flesch. At the age of nine, Mutter studied with Aïda Stucki, a preeminent Swiss violinist.
After 1976, Mutter’s career skyrocketed when she was 13 — Berlin Philharmonic’s principal conductor, Herbert von Karajan, had just heard her in recital at the Lucerne Festival.
Subsequently, von Karajan invited Mutter to make her concerto debut, playing with the Berlin Philharmonic at the 1977 Salzburg Whitsun Festival.
In 1978, she made her first album with the Berlin Philharmonic on Deutsche Grammophon, playing Mozart’s Violin Concertos Nos. 3 and 5. With them, she also recorded Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch, and Mendelssohn’s violin concertos for the Yellow Label.
It was later in 2013, that Mutter and the Berlin Philharmonic united to make their first studio album in 30 years, which became Mutter’s first recording of the Dvořák Violin Concerto.
Preceding this, it was in the late 1970s and early 80s, that her critically acclaimed debuts in Berlin, Washington, New York, Tokyo, and Moscow, established her unerring presence in the world’s major concert halls.
As an educator, Mutter was appointed International Chair in Violin Studies at London’s Royal Academy of Music in 1986. A year later, she founded the Rudolf Eberle Trust to support gifted young string players across Europe — a program that extended worldwide in 1997.
In the fall of 1997, she founded the “Association of Friends of the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation e.V.,” which was joined by the formation of the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation in 2008.
In 2011 Mutter formed the ensemble Mutter’s Virtuosi, comprising former and current scholarship holders of the ASM Foundation and other select musicians.
Students through Mutter’s Virtuosi have also had the opportunity to record with Mutter, including VC Artist cellist Pablo Ferrández who performed with her in 2022 with Brahms’s Double Concerto Op. 102, alongside the Czech Philharmonic and conductor Manfred Honeck in Prague.
Her other recordings include Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet and the “Notturno” Piano Trio, performed with pianist Daniil Trifonov and Mutter’s Virtuosi in a 2017 release.
Since its inception, the Foundation has commissioned and performed Previn’s Concerto for Violin and Double Bass and his Nonet for Two String Quartets and Double Bass, Penderecki’s Duo concertante, Rihm’s Dyade, and Currier’s Ringtone Variations.
By the late 1990s, Mutter had recorded Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with the Trondheim Soloists, which sold over 370,000 copies worldwide. Her recordings with Previn as conductor also included the latter’s special Violin Concerto “Anne-Sophie,” alongside the violin concertos of Korngold and Tchaikovsky.
Additionally, her recording of Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas with Lambert Orkis won several GRAMMY and Echo Awards.
“Over the years I have played with many great pianists, but Lambert and I have a very special collaboration,” Mutter told The Violin Channel in 2018. “We can trust each other to listen and to feel and react to what the music is saying to us.
“We both bring such different view points from our very different cultural roots — which makes the process of rehearsing and performing together invigorating and exciting,” she added. “I’m very grateful for the decades of amazing music-making — and I’m so thankful he too shares a keen interest in contemporary works.”
Throughout her career, Mutter has specially celebrated composers including Mozart, whose 250th birthday anniversary she marked in 2006 with world tours and complete recordings of his violin sonatas and concertos; and Penderecki, whose 85th birthday celebrations took place in 2018.
In late 2023, Mutter will be performing Penderecki’s Violin Concerto No. 2 “Metamorphosen” (dedicated to her) in Poland and Israel with the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrey Boreyko. This project is in honor of the 90th birthday of Penderecki, who passed away in 2020.
Mutter’s partnership with film composer John Williams saw her record selections in 2019, of his film themes in new adaptations written specially for her. This became the Across the Stars album — featuring themes from the Star Wars and Harry Potter films, and those from Memoirs of a Geisha and Schindler’s List.
As the dedicatee of Williams’ Violin Concerto No. 2, Mutter will perform the work in 2023, alongside his film music adaptations across Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and the U.S.
In 2019, Mutter also created a special recording with Daniel Barenboim, Yo-Yo Ma, and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto. This marked the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth and 40 years since Mutter recorded the same piece with Ma, pianist Mark Zeltser, and von Karajan.
As a humanitarian, Mutter’s benefit concerts have raised funds for Save the Children Japan and Save the Children Yemen, the Swiss Multiple Sclerosis Society, victims of the 2011 Japanese tsunami, Artists against Aids in the United States, the Bruno Bloch Foundation, Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children, SOS Children’s Villages in Syria, the Leipzig Refugee Council, and to support those affected by the war in Ukraine.
In 2021, the German cancer charity’s “Deutsche Krebshilfe” board of trustees elected her as its new president. Since January 2022, she has been on the foundation board of the Lucerne Festival.
Her many accolades include the 2008 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, 2009 Légion d’honneur for services to contemporary French music, and the 2011 Erich-Fromm-Preis for the advancement of Humanism through social engagement.
In 2013, she became an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and was appointed an Honorary Fellow at Keble College in 2015. The following year, she was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit in Fine Arts by Spain’s Ministry of Culture. In 2018, she was made an honorary member of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and was a 2019 laureate of Sweden’s Polar Music Prize.
She has also garnered a Merit Cross 1st Class of the Federal Republic of Germany, Herbert von Karajan Music Prize, Bavarian Order of Merit, Romania’s Order of Cultural Merit, Poland’s Gold Medal for Merit to Culture, Japan’s Praemium Imperiale for Music, Commander of France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ruhr Piano Festival Prize, and the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society.
Mutter’s upcoming projects include two further European tours between June and September with the Mutter’s Virtuosi, in repertoire including works by Previn, Bach, Vivaldi, and Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint Georges.
In chamber music, she will tour Europe with Orkis and cellist Maximilian Hornung with Brahms’ Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3, Clara Schumann’s Three Romances Op. 22, Beethoven’s “Ghost Trio,” and Currier’s Ghost Trio (dedicated to Mutter).
“Chamber music is often the repertoire that many composers come back to — often at the very end of their lives,” Mutter reflected. “I find it’s like a harvest of their total musical experience — producing some of the most exciting and profound works. Of course I’d never dismiss the solo repertoire, but for me, chamber music is equally as important — and I find it deeply satisfying.”
To close out her birthday year, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will announce “Anne-Sophie Mutter, John Williams & Friends: A Celebration,” a special one-night-only concert on December 12, 2023. The concert will feature Mutter performing the Beethoven Triple Concerto with pianist Yefim Bronfman, cellist Pablo Ferrández, and conductor Susanna Mälkki. The second half will feature Anne-Sophie Mutter together with the legendary conductor and composer John Williams for a special program featuring his compositions.