Monday, June 29, 2009

Anne Sophie Mutter

Anne-Sophie Mutter is a German violinist and teacher born on June 29, 1963 (Heifetz was 62 years old.) Although she is in the forefront of international violin virtuosos, she actually never attended any big-name conservatories. Her violin studies from the age of five were with Erna Honigberger and Aida Stucki. At age 13, at Herbert Von Karajan’s request, she played with the Berlin Philharmonic. The rest is history. At age 15 she began her recording career. Mutter is a meticulous perfectionist, known for her highly disciplined, careful interpretations. Her U.S. debut came in New York in 1980, at age 17. She did not, however, play in Carnegie Hall until 1988. Her recording of the Beethoven Sonatas was made in CD and DVD format. She is unusual for not using a shoulder rest – a common piece of equipment used by the vast majority of contemporary violinists – and for only wearing strapless gowns in concert. She is also one of the richest violinists in the world, if not the richest. Her instruments of choice are two Stradivarius violins – the Emiliani (1703) and the Lord Dunn–Raven (1710.) She joined the faculty of the Royal Academy of Music in London in 1985. In 1993, she became involved in a dispute with several English orchestras over her high fees – then approximately $50,000 per night. As a result, she did not perform with any London orchestras for two years. She then cut her fee by 20 percent and started playing there again. It has been said that Mutter came close to retiring in 2008 but changed her mind. She married her first husband when she was 26 – he was 56. After the death of her first husband in 1995, it was rumored that Mutter became a lover to the Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, when he was 75. She married famous conductor Andre Previn in 2002 – she was 39 and he was 73. She divorced him in 2006. There are many videos of her playing – all professionally produced – on YouTube. Her sound is full-bodied and always under control. One will never hear blood, sweat, and tears coming from her violin – in the style of Ivry Gitlis – the soul-baring, wild, virtuosic, risk-taking is simply not there.

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