December 11, 1976. 68-year-old Herbert von Karajan is conducting a rehearsal at Berlin’s Philharmonie. Always curious about new talent, he has invited a young violinist to play for him after the rehearsal. And although he is in a hurry, with a concert scheduled for that very evening, he listens to the thirteen-year-old for a full half hour. When Anne-Sophie Mutter finally leaves the building, she already has an invitation to be his soloist at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival; this engagement, which would launch her international career, is celebrated with a visit to the zoo.

Eight years earlier, the five-year-old Anne-Sophie Mutter made a lifelong decision upon hearing an LP of Yehudi Menuhin: her parents have to swap the piano lessons they had planned for violin lessons, and just one year later, she wins Germany’s “Jugend Musiziert” competition as its youngest participant.

Today she’s no longer bothered by the Wunderkind label, which she never really felt comfortable with, having to deal instead with a reputation as Mrs. Perfect. As she says herself, striving for perfection is certainly thrilling, but there’s no point in thinking anyone can even come close.

© Ulla Pilz, ORF - Radio Österreich 1


  • Alongside the traditional repertoire, Mutter is a proponent of contemporary music, and works by Gubaidulina, Penderecki, Rihm, and her ex-husband André Previn have been dedicated to and/or commissioned by her.

  • Herself only 36 years old, she creates a foundation for the promotion of young and highly gifted string players in 1997.

  • She performs “Yellow Lounge” concerts in club settings, reaching young people who don’t usually attend classical concerts.

  • Her countless international honors include four Grammy Awards, nine Echo Klassik prizes, and the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize (the first woman to receive it).

  • For the Deutsche Grammophon label alone, Anne-Sophie Mutter recorded 39 albums between 1978 and 2015.

Did you know?

  • Her parents and two older brothers gave Anne-Sophie Mutter the nickname “Mucki” as a child.

  • She considers her Dior clothing her work uniform, “like a plumber’s outfit”; it has to be strapless in order to enable skin contact with the violin.

  • She finds practicing unbelievably boring.