Anne-Sophie Mutter exclusive: ‘You will watch…’

Anne-Sophie Mutter exclusive: ‘You will watch…’


norman lebrecht

October 17, 2019

The formidable German violinist makes her debut on Zsolt Bognar’s Living the Classical Life. You see it first on Slipped Disc.


‘The first record I bought with my pocket money was Bruckner 4.’

‘Karajan was the embodiment of charisma.’

‘Those were the days when there was time to rehearse.’

‘Meeting Karajan was a little bit like meeting John Williams…. I was intimidated by John Williams. I was not intimidated by Karajan.’

‘I try to be a useful member of human society…. I am on Instagram and Facebook… I have never been an artist who wanted to be seen as more than an artist.’

‘If one of my dogs is very sick, I am very grateful for the responses.’

‘I need time to stay humble, to stay grounded…. I try to be a serious musician who is not blindfolded when it comes to social causes.’

Totally fascinating empathetic stuff.

‘We need to be realistic why we want to be a musician.’



  • Gustavo says:

    How dare you compare meèting John Williams with meeting Karajan!

    There are worlds between them.

    John is a genius, a creator of wonderful music.

    Karajan was simply a prominent conductor.

    Lenny and André were both.

    • Simon Hall says:

      How dare you compare meèting John Williams with meeting Karajan!

      There are worlds between them.

      John Williams wasn’t nearly as good as Julian Bream, while Karajan was simply one of the greatest conductors we have ever had.

      • CJ says:

        I think you are not talking about the same John Williams, there is John Williams the composer and John Williams the classical guitarist.

        • Gustavo says:

          And then there is Ralph Vaughan Williams.

          And Gustav Holst…

          But please, stop comparing the composer John Williams with Herbert von Karajan and Julian Bream!

      • Gustavo says:

        Who is we?

        The Philharmonia?

      • HCollier says:

        Thumbs down for Mr Williams (whoever he is). And thumbs down for “one of the greatest conductors we have ever had”. Von Karajan compared with Furtwängler, Jochum, Wandt, et al? Come off it. Herbert von Karajan was a media star (without even mentioning Simon Rattle).

    • Jack Ewing says:

      When Beethoven and Mozart wrote their masterpieces, conductors were not necessary. They were not necessary then, they’re not necessary now. Overpaid hams with the talent a little bit above that of a Duanne Reade night manager.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Huh? An orchestra can probably play Mozart without a conductor, but would have serious trouble playing something by Strauss or Stravinsky without one (and the performance would be horrible).

  • e says:

    she is a legend and so intelligent. one can disagree with her style, but this is one smart interview. she is so right about struggle and being oneself. i hope a lot of people hear this, and those in power be generous to those who do not fit the mold.

  • Michael Turner says:

    I can see that there is going to be a long string of comments on A-S M’s mention of Karajan and John Williams – presumably that’s the composer, not the guitarist, nor the former Principal Oboe of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (!).

  • sorin says:

    she’s kind but unfortunately boring like hell.

    • Calloutthetrolls says:

      You didn’t even watch the interview. Troll.

    • YS says:

      And I know people who knew her and zer children… Humble? Not being far away from being grounded ?

      People who know her told, that she is quite the opposite in real life, most of all when she is surrounded by people she regards as being “under her level”

      • Calloutthetrolls! says:

        You know people who know her? Wow! You’re amazing. Congratulations! Tell us more useless second and third hand gossip from haters.

        You’re a troll!

    • Igor says:

      Kind?! Are you roomates with Satan or people wearing red armbands?!

  • Tracy Killeen says:

    Boring. Why not ask the really interesting questions like, “How in the world did you get away from the clutches of the Andre-Woody-Mia-Dory-Soon Yi cabal?

    • Tamino says:

      Maybe interesting for New Yorkers, but the rest of the world doesn’t care that much about these metropolitan neurotics.

  • Judith Despaties says:

    A delightful moment……thank you !

  • Nijinsky says:

    And then someone in protest, before telling the love of their life that they loved them, said: “could you wait a moment I have to record this on video,” as if then it’ll last forever….

    “It’s OK this recording device can pass through black holes, won’t be swallowed up.”

    • Nijinsky says:

      In case anyone didn’t get this, this was a joke.

      Anne-Sophie points out how to simply take in a performance is more of a memory than recording one a cell phone it to take home with you.

      With your soul’s connection with your memory, and even the physical apparatus with the body, you have a better recording device than all of these things people are pecking at constantly insulting pigeons.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Anne-Sophie Mutter is one of the greatest violinists of our age.
    Herbert von Karajan was one of the greatest conductors of our age.
    John Williams composes movie music.

    • Movie music is still music says:

      First, HvK isn’t even of “our age” – he died 30 years ago.

      John Williams is a creator. Mutter is a performer. Karajan was a conductor – not even a performer, but a traffic cop for performers. That he was a superb traffic cop and Mutter a superb performer is beside the point. Without the creators, the performers would have nothing to do.

      And Williams has composed a lot more than just “movie music” – notwithstanding the truism that even his film music has more musical value than a lot of the contemporary cr@p that’s blighting concert halls these days.

      • Greg Bottini says:

        Well, excuse me, Mr. or Ms. “Movie music is still music”, for stating facts and having an opinion.
        To deal with your first statement, Karajan is definitely of our age. (Note that I did NOT say “the contemporary age”.) His international career started in the late 1940s, and I daresay that most of today’s classical music devotees, judging from what I see at concerts, were certainly born around that time or even earlier. I and many, many others grew up with Karajan’s recordings when they were new and “hot off the presses”. And after all the upheavals in the recording industry, they are still being reissued!
        But Karajan a “traffic cop”? What a rude and uninformed statement to make! Great conductors, through hard work and numerous rehearsals, establish their own individual sound ideals and get the orchestras they work with to project that sound. Why do you think that those who are classed as great conductors, as different as they are, are always the ones who spend many years with the same orchestra?
        And without performers like Karajan and Mutter, composers – those “creators” you refer to – would go unheard and be unheard of.
        My opinion is that John Williams’ film music is boring, bombastic, and repetitious, written for mindless summer movie blockbusters whose only aim is to make money, and lots of it. He is in no way an “art film” composer.
        Your opinion that “his film music has more musical value than a lot of the contemporary cr@p that’s blighting concert halls these days” is your opinion. And it is widely open to debate.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    She is still so beautiful.

  • Tichy says:

    To all the comments above: If “one of the greatest violinists of our age” thinks John Williams is one of the greatest composers of our age, well it is her opinion and you can not change that. You don’t have to agree, of course. But some are trying to relativize that fact.

    There is other stuff in that interview, too. Very inspiring in fact. She has had a long career and a good one. To still be able to stay humble and question yourself and what you do, what you like, is a rare thing.

  • bob barsky says:

    the charismatic maestro she speaks of was a notorious Nazi who adored Hitler (may his name and memory be erased), unlike Furtwangler who while still a collaborator did not admire Hitler or join the Nazi party. Mutter proves herself an amoral woman. She married a Jewish man but continued to venerate and honor this monster,