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(Image courtesy: Anne-Sophie Mutter)

Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter Discusses Taking a Break From Performing

Mutter explained she will take a break near the end of this year “to re-evaluate how [she wants] to go into the future as a musician”

 

With a professional career spanning almost 50 years, the German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter is a four-time GRAMMY-Award winner and is regarded as one of today’s most eminent virtuosos. 

Beginning her career at the age of 13, Mutter has since performed all over the world and recorded over 50 albums. She was mentored by conductor Herbert von Karajan in the early 80s and often collaborates with film composer John Williams.

In a recent interview with Handelsblatt news, Mutter discussed stage fright, self-discipline, how to organize peak performance, as well as taking time off at the end of this year to revitalize herself. 

“I always have to free myself from the hamster wheel,” she explained. “For example, I won’t be performing for a few months towards the end of this year. I want to re-evaluate how I want to go into the future as a musician. During this break I will hopefully improve my archery skills and deepen meditation as an integral focus of my life.”

Additionally, in an interview with the Strait Times in 1997, Mutter was then about to plan a sabbatical in the year 2000, saying that “every 10 years I take a break!”

Mutter began piano lessons at age five and received violin lessons from Erna Honigberger, who was a pupil of famed pedagogue Carl Flesch. At the age of nine, Mutter studied with the Swiss violinist Aïda Stucki.

Her career skyrocketed when she was invited at age 13 by Berlin Philharmonic’s principal conductor von Karajan to make her concerto debut with the Berlin Philharmonic at the 1977 Salzburg Whitsun Festival

“The question of the meaning of life always arises for me, regardless of birthdays,” Mutter told Handelsblatt, while reflecting on her career. “My life hasn't always been easy. I, too, went through deep valleys of tears and had to overcome human and artistic crises. Such crises are part of life. The question is whether you will ultimately grow as a result.”

As a humanitarian, Mutter’s benefit concerts have raised funds for the Save the Children organizations in Japan and 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

“Music is very meaningful to me,” Mutter added. “I try to combine a lot of things outside of pure concert activity: my work for cancer aid, my foundation, in which I have been supporting young string players worldwide for 27 years, and my charity projects. This has a lot to do with sharing and gives energy.”

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 for gifted young string players across Europe, which extended worldwide in 1997.

In 2011, Mutter formed the Mutter’s Virtuosi ensemble, comprising former and current scholarship holders of her foundation and other select musicians, including VC Artist Pablo Ferrández who performed with her in 2022 with Brahms’s Double Concerto Op. 102, alongside the Czech Philharmonic

“Discipline is of course important,” Mutter responded, when asked about the crucial elements of her career. “But the questioning of yourself, the curiosity and the joy of thinking or feeling differently are what fascinate me about life. This also applies to music. There is always a completely new musical language in my life. I have just given Aftab Darvishi a commission for a short solo work. Collaborating with such Iranian composers is a way to give women in this oppressive state a voice.”

“I have a lot of plans,” she concluded. “Now I just need to have the time and energy to get it all done before my hundredth birthday.”

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