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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Q&A | 11 Questions for Anne-Sophie Mutter

By Michael Vincent on October 24, 2014


Every so often, MT poses 60 questions to a local or visiting artist in Toronto who has made our classical music community that much more interesting. They pick and choose. A kind of Rorschach personality test, if you will.

Germanborn, Anne-Sophie Mutter is one of the greatest violin virtuosos of our time. At the age of 13 she performed as a soloist at the renowned Salzburg Festival, under conductor Herbert von Karajan. Two years later, she made her recording debut with Karajan, and the Berlin Philharmonic. Besides being an interpreter of traditional classical repertoire, she is a avid supporter of contemporary music. She has premiered works by Henri Dutilleux, Sofia Gubaidulina, Witold Lutoslawski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Sir André Previn and Wolfgang Rihm. After going on to win four Grammy Awards and countless prizes, she founded The Mutter Virtuosi — a group made up of some of the best alumni of the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation.

Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Mutter Virtuosi will be in Toronto on Friday, November 21, 2014 to perform at the Roy Thomson Hall. Details here.


First thing that comes to your mind when you think about Toronto?

You know, Toronto has this wonderful extension of the Royal Ontario Museum, which is done by Daniel Libeskind, and I find it’s one of the most inventive and wonderful addendums to an existing building I’ve ever seen. So imaginative, it’s so poetic, it’s just totally beautiful. The next thing which comes to mind is a wonderful vacation I spent with my son a few years ago. It was in the Muskokas, right on the lake. We took long hikes, and, I mean, the landscape around Toronto is just totally incredible. And then of course there’s Glenn Gould which comes to mind when I think of Toronto. How often have I been sitting on the bench next to him, taking ‘selfies’. [Reference to the Glenn Gould statue located outside of the Canadian Broadcasting Centre, on Front St]. A lot of wonderful memories, and the best blueberries in the world.

Your first three record store purchases?

When I was 11, I remember buying Bruckner 4 with Karajan. I was a great fan of Dunu Lipatti at an early age, and I think I bought his recording of Bach. And a recording by Oscar Peterson. When I had my own pocket money, these are the three artists I invested into.

The three books that you read that made an impact on your formative years?

There is a children’s book about the mouse, Frederick [by Leo Lionni] who collects memories. It’s also a wonderful book also for adults. It’s about the carpe diem factor in life, that you have to really savor the moment, and remember beautiful things when the days are dark. And then of course is the Diary of Anne Frank, which I read when I was very young, and that was a huge shock for me. And then there’s a book by Victor Hugo, which I also read in my early teenage years, it actually changed the law in France. It’s The Last Day of the Condemned Man. It’s an incredibly strong book.

Where was the last place you traveled to, for work or for pleasure?

I went to Botswana in August, and to the Okavango Delta, for safari. I dreamed of having close encounters with elephants, and zebras, and giraffes since I was 6 or 7 years old. I took my children with me, and also Lambert and his wife (Lambert Orkis, my wonderful pianist). It was actually in celebration of our 25 years on stage together as a musical duo, so that was a great, great, wonderful experience.

Your three favourite films?

Lawrence of Arabia – a very beautiful picture, and it holds up so well, particularly when you consider how old it is. Then La vita è bella – it’s a beautiful but very sad film. And, The Dark Night Rises by Christopher Nolan. I am a great Batman fan.

The talent you wish you possessed?

I would love to paint like the French Impressionists. Monet once said he’s not interested in the object, per se, but what happens between him and the object. This is what I’m fascinated with. Yep, I would really love to have that gift.

What musical instrument do you secretly long to play?

When I was a child, I started to study piano. I played at an acceptable level until I was 13 or 14, then I decided violin was really the big love of my life, musically speaking. But I really would love to also play the piano, because the repertoire for piano is so incredibly impressive and beautiful.

The first album that made you love music?

I have to go back to Bruckner 4 because that is the first piece of orchestra music I consciously remember, and that made me fall in love with music altogether. Particularly, with Bruckner’s unique musical language, which, when I close my eyes, reminds me of Austrian mountains and creation.

What are you most proud of?

Of course, my children. My son and my daughter, they are wonderful young people, and they have great sense of community, and people, and how to reach out. Yep, my children. Although, having said that, I’ve not much to do with their good outcome. Must be the genes of their father.

Your favourite word?

My favourite word, in any language, would be “love,” of course. It’s such an important word, and it should be exercised and said more often.

The best way to die?

Without knowing.

Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent
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