Anne-Sophie Mutter is a big deal. The German violinist has received countless awards, including multiple Grammys and the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, and has been a fixture on the international scene for nearly 40 years. She dedicates herself and her talents to numerous charitable foundations and provides support and encouragement for gifted young musicians following in her footsteps. Even with this immense global success, she remains grounded.
Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Mutter doesn’t come from a long line of musicians, but rather from great appreciators of music. Her introduction to this world came quite early when, as a child, she’d listen to her parents’ classical records.
“Although we had no professional musicians in the family, there always was this great love of classical music which must have influenced, or at least inspired, all three children to start to play an instrument,” Mutter said.
At the age of five she began piano lessons and moved quickly to the violin. She cemented her status as a violin virtuoso at age 13, beginning her international career with the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan. The relationship between Mutter and Karajan would become a very important one to the budding young musician.
“We started to collaborate with each other until his death, which was 13 years later,” she said in an interview with the Michigan Daily. “I was 26 by then, and that has been a tremendous influence on my life.”
Mutter’s upcoming Hill performance on March 14 will mark her sixth appearance in Ann Arbor since her University Musical Society debut in 1989. Longtime colleague Lambert Orkis will serve as accompanist to Mutter. The performance will include Mozart’s “Sonata in G Major,” Schubert’s “Fantasy in C Major,” Lutosławski’s “Partita” and Saint-Saëns’s “Sonata No. 1 in D Minor.” This combination of classical staples and more contemporary compositions is a hallmark of many of Mutter’s performances.
Mutter noted the differing expectancies between classical and contemporary compositions.
“With the standard repertoire, one has to fight traditional expectations of how a piece is played more than with a contemporary piece,” she said. “With these pieces, of course, you have the unique chance as a performer, particularly when the piece is dedicated to you and you are performing it for the first time, to really give that particular piece of contemporary music your personal stamp.”
The UMS performance is meaningful to Mutter, as it will exhibit not only classical staples but also honor the 100th birthday of Lutosławski, a contemporary composer and musical inspiration.
“You delve under and really try to slip under the skin of Mozart and Schubert, and I have to say, the program we are bringing to Ann Arbor is particularly tremendous in my heart because we have such a personal history with it,” Mutter said. “Lutosławski has been a composer opening my ears, my heart and my brain for contemporary music.”
Lutosławski has composed several pieces for Mutter since the mid-1980s, including the Partita she will perform at Hill.
And for those who feel like classical music is over their head, not so fast.
“Why would one be intimated by classical music?” Mutter asked. “This is ourselves, our music. It’s vibration. There’s no reason to be intimidated by classical music. Buy a ticket, go in there, try to avoid coughing and enjoy.”