All shall have prizes: Mutter is imperially richer

All shall have prizes: Mutter is imperially richer


norman lebrecht

September 17, 2019

The violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter has been chosen for Japan’s Premium Imperiale, worth 15 million yen ($138,000).

Press release:

September 17, 2019 – The Japan Art Association today announced the recipients of the 2019 Praemium Imperiale Awards:

Sculpture: Mona HATOUM (British/Palestine)
Music: Anne-Sophie MUTTER (Germany)
Painting: William KENTRIDGE (South Africa)
Theatre/Film: BANDO Tamasaburo (Japan)
Architecture: Tod WILLIAMS & Billie TSIEN (USA)

Each Laureate receives an honorarium of 15 million Yen (c. US$138,000). The awards will be presented by His Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, Honorary Patron of the Japan Art Association and younger brother of the Emperor Emeritus of Japan, in a ceremony in Japan this October. In addition to the Praemium Imperiale Awards, the 5 million Yen (c. US$46,000) grant for Young Artists has been awarded to Démos, the musical education programme under Philharmonie de Paris that provides musical education to children between 7 to 12 in underserved localities or rural areas in France.



  • Andy says:

    I’ve been to a couple of concerts where she’s played in the last couple of years and she was terrific. Brahms Double Concerto in Oxford and Bach Concerto for 2 violins with Maxim Vengerov in London. Both times she played beautifully, and then slipped into the audience to see the second half of the concerts (which in London was Argerich playing the Schumann concerto), and appeared genuinely thrilled with everything.

  • Nick2 says:

    Another case of monetary awards being given to musicians and artists who already have a ton of it. Hopefully Ms. Mutter will donate hers to a Foundation to assist young needy musicians..

  • M McAlpine says:

    No problem with people getting awards but does seem strange that establish artists, who probably don’t need it, get the lion’s share, while the youngsters get the smaller amount.

  • sam says:


    She’s not even the best violinist, much less musician, in Germany, much less the world.

  • John Borstlap says:

    I’m so happy that these top performers get richer and richer, are collecting more and more money, become millionaires, before the clasical music world will collapse under its own weight and financial pressures in the future. And if funds will become scarce, just pay orchestral players and staff less and less so that the solo fees can continue to rise and awards will continue to proliferate. One can always close the concert halls and let the stars play in conference centres, city council halls, or lobbies in 5 star hotels, as long as we can go on paying them royally so that we can ignore the Titanic slowly sinking. These stars, of there are fortunately so many, are so rare that we have to drown them in gold, so that they will go on playing the museum pieces as long as possible, to remain the icons we love above anything else, and especially above the music they play.

    • Tamino says:

      Didn‘t Mutter just do a John Williams recording?
      And wasn‘t her album before that one dedicated exclusively to Penderecki?

      How does that correlate with your lazy stereotype „playing the museum pieces“?

      • John Borstlap says:

        One could argue that as soon as Mutter plays a work, it becomes a museum piece. I heard a recording of ‘her’ Beethoven concerto in the oldfashioned style, slow, with lots of pathos and legato, ignoring the rediscoveries of how the classical style be best rendered. Also she likes the Gubaidulina ‘concerto’ which has just the right thin pathos to immediately find itself in a glass box, as we find in a museum. Etc. etc…. She is a great performer, but her style is rather sixties and seventies.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Huh? So she enjoys playing the music in a different style than you do. Nothing wrong with playing it in a different style if that is what she and the audience want.

  • Steve M. says:

    Japan is very good a tricking almost everyone at the international level. Try living there, especially as a non-Japanese classical musician. You will witness a level of coldness and hatred on a daily basis that will completely alter the way you think about life. Mutter should announce that she will donate her winnings to funds initiatives that will shine a light on how Japan is a signatory to the UN’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination but does very little to enforce related laws. For example, you could be asked to leave a restaurant simply because you are not Japanese. The Japanese customers will simply go on with their meals as if nothing occurred. Happens all the time.

    Many of you are probably thinking, “Well the Japanese can’t hate us too much because many European orchestras and soloists play there quite often.” This is because you are only staying for a short period and Japanese music management staff basically controls everyone like little pets so that you avoid experiencing the dark side of Japan. This is why they always seem like they are walking on eggs at every moment during the bus rides, dining excursions, etc.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    She can buy herself some lessons. She’s a horrible player


    So who knows where the headline “All shall have prizes” can you mes from? Nice quote, NL!