Not another prize for the Mutter of them all

Not another prize for the Mutter of them all


norman lebrecht

December 18, 2019

The Baden-Württemberg Culture Prize 2020, worth 20,000 euros, has been awarded to the violinist Anne Sophie Mutter.



Tireless commitment and social responsibility, they say.

What’s the point?

Your call.


  • pageturner says:

    If it was prize for great playing, she’d have failed to be a contender long ago, so over-rated.

  • Carlos Solare says:

    “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance.” (Matthew 13:12)

  • Djeedo says:

    The winner takes it all!!!

  • Gustavo says:

    She deserves it.

    She sent Christmas cookies to John Williams last year (hopefully also this year), prompting him to compose music for herself (not only for Daisy Ridley).

    And John is going to conduct the Vienna Phil in 2020!

    Baden-Württemberg may be jumping on the band waggon.

    But I think the music scene really needs these dazzling stars that bring the sound of the violin and orchestral music to a younger audience.

    This is not achieved by retrograde box set editions of Furtwängler or Beethoven.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    She deserves an over-50 beauty prize, too.

  • Herr Doktor says:

    I wouldn’t call myself ASM’s biggest fan, but one thing she deserves credit for is that in my experience, she never dials it in unlike a number of her peers at her level. She always seems completely committed to what she is playing and gives it her all. She may not be among my favorite living violinists, but she is absolutely dedicated and a real musician. She sets an example that others should aspire to.

    • Amos says:

      Agreed that she does not mail it in but for the last few years her interpretive decisions seem odd. In the case of the recording of the Brahms concerto with Masur/NYPO and a concert performance of the Beethoven, honoring HvK, with Ozawa/BPO the tempi were glacial with sudden momentary accelerations that made no sense. A concert performance of the Brahms double with a young cellist she has been promoting was imo lifeless. Whatever you think of her early recordings they were rarely if ever boring.

      • Herr Doktor says:

        Amos, I completely lagree with you. Her interpretation of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto that I heard her perform a couple of years ago with the Boston Symphony was weird. Maybe it’s what she feel she needs to do to keep interested in it, to keep trying new things even if they’re not great ideas. But as a performance, it did not work.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          This happens because the repertoire is too narrow. Imagine spending 40 years playing the same 6-7 pieces. She must be utterly bored.

          Perhaps she should use her “name” to insist she plays some rarely played pieces that she thinks are interesting. Spending a season-or-two doing this would surely be time well spent.

  • I am very surprised by condescending tone of this post, and the barbs and sexist comments aimed at Ms. Mutter in some of the comments. She is one of the most astounding, influential and intelligent musicians of the past 50 years. So yet another award is not as far-fetched as it is well-deserved.

  • Fliszt says:

    Who can play better than she does???

    • sycorax says:

      I wouldn’t want to go into this debate, but I know a few who give me more because they’re to me more touching.
      However, that’s very much a matter of personal taste.

  • christopher storey says:

    You ask why, NL? Perhaps it’s because possibly, just possibly, she plays the violin just fractionally better than you, and has given a great deal of effort in the service of music

  • Petros Linardos says:

    In this blog many announcement of a prize to famous musician goes through stages:

    1 – Norman Lebrecht questions the point of it, if the award goes to a musician he is not a fan of.

    2- Some commenters bash the recipient

    3- Others defend the recipient.

    4- Some commenters point out that the prize money will probably not be spent towards, say, a new car (recipient is already awash in money), but towards a worthy cause.

    I’d like to move on the stage 4 of this process:

    • Gerry says:

      Excellent, you just missed the stage between 3 and 4, possibly call it ‘3a’. That’s where commenters on this site begin to diss each other and the commentary slides into farce.

  • MacroV says:

    I trust she’ll donate it to a good cause. Also assume she doesn’t have to show up to play in order to collect, as her nightly fee is probably a lot more than that.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      She may quote a higher fee as standard. But when she plays with leading orchestras she doesn’t charge anything like that amount.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Maybe she’ll channel some of that money to a foundation or something.

  • Pedro says:

    She is a superb artist. I have heard her live in every violin concerto of the usual repertoire ( except the Dvorak ) and in several recitals. Great sound, strong commitment, good taste, perfect technique.

  • Konsgaard says:

    Well deserved! Bravo!

  • Katharina Uhde says:

    She is my hero (or Heldin) because she performs consistently at a very high level, decade after decade. She is a superb artist and she also has a wonderful mind and shares her thoughts with the public in ways I find much more enlightening than with many other violinists. The way she speaks about music is authentic and individual and deeply inspiring for younger generations. Her foundation does important work. I think she has evolved so much throughout her career, and reinvented herself several times, which is a challenging thing to accomplish for an artist whose career started so early. She did it. NL, I rarely disagree with you and I truly enjoy your news and am a big fan of this website. In this case, however, I think it’s appropriate to congratulate ASM for this much-deserved honor!

  • George says:

    Mutter is a fantastic violinist. But why on earth is it sexist to say she‘s a beautiful woman? She is. Without surgery.

  • Giora says:

    Really surprise by the condescende of many comments. Even if sometimes her musical choices may seem a bit strange, she is one of the greatest violinists of the last 50 years and has a real voice clearly recognizable among hundreds. Not like the many youngsters that all sound the same!!