Léonie Sonning Awards 2001

Anne-Sophie Mutter

Anne-Sophie Mutter received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize of DKK 400,000 at a concert held at 7.30pm on Thursday, 22 February 2001 in Tivloli Concert Hall. The music prize was presented by editor Steen Frederiksen, who said: "The atmosphere that surrounds you is a radiant, elegant one – ‘the only superstar of classical music,’ some people say – comparing you with the superstars of popular music. But at the instant you start to play, the comparison becomes a poor one and the atmosphere is transformed into depth and emotional intensity. For the experience you give us every time is something special every time and the music does exactly what you yourself said when you were in Copenhagen last year and spoke briefly about communication between people: ‘Music reaches us, touches us, gives us something to remember, enriches us.’

Historically speaking, you have played an important role for the attitude of Europeans to the violin. Europe had become dominated by the style of the great American violinists – the European tradition, its beauty and depth, were in the process of getting lost. And then you came onto the musical scene and recreated and continued and renewed the very best of the European violin tradition."

The programme

W.A. Mozart Sonata for violin and piano in G major
F. Schubert Sonata for violin and piano in A major
G. Fauré Sonata for violin and piano in A major
W.A. Mozart Sonata for violin and piano in Bb major

Performed by:

Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Lambert Orkis, piano


The 2001 Léonie Sonning Music Prize of DKK 400,000 is awarded to Anne-Sophie Mutter as one of the greatest violinists of our time. Anne-Sophie Mutter revived the European violinist tradition and every time she plays gives us an experience at the very highest level, no matter whether she is playing chamber music or solo concertos. She has taken the initiative to new music, given old music new clothes – and with what is always a highly personal interpretation Anne-Sophie Mutter constantly gives herself and her audience new challenges.

Anne-Sophie Mutter and Denmark

Throughout her career, Anne-Sophie Mutter has had a warm relation to Denmark and given lots of concerts here – in Tivoli in Copenhagen, with Odense and Aarhus Symphony Orchestras, and in 1996, when Copenhagen was European Capital of Culture, she played Brahms’ violin concerto in Tivoli Concert Hall with the New York Philharmonic and Kurt Masur. Three years before receiving the Sonning Music Prize, she played Beethoven’s violin sonatas in Tivoli – one of the many concerts on a long tour after her CD recording of all the sonatas.

"It is rarely that one experiences such an intensity in an audience as with the Danish audience, which has followed me faithfully. For me the prize is a symbol of relations between the Danish music public and German musicians," Anne-Sophie Mutter said at a press meeting at Hotel d’Angleterre prior to the prize-giving concert.

Selected Music by Anne Sophie Mutter

The daily press

wrote, among other things: 

"[…] It was by letting the note be in peace, simply stand there completely naked without vibrato, that she achieved an almost pedagogical clarity in the andante of Fauré’s sonata [...] During an entire phrase the notes are started without any vibrato, very cautiously and quietly. When the following, commenting phrase then sounds with a full-blooded, vibrating tone, saturated with warmth and depth of sound, the phrasing is stretched to the utmost, and the music seems to quiver at the corners of one’s mouth. It becomes heart-rending, but without being clinging."

 (Anders Beyer, Information, 24 February 2001)

"The hall was packed for the prize-giving concert [...] There was rapt attention. The coughers also tried to keep themselves under control. But not enough, apparently. For just as Anne-Sophie Mutter demands perfection of herself, so too does she of her audience. So between the second and third movements of Fauré’s first violin sonata, we were reprimanded. Afterwards, in her speech of thanks, she softened this up by playing yet another Kreisler encore and wishing us better health on her next visit."

(Knud Ketting, Jyllands-Posten, 24 February 2001)