Krzysztof Penderecki Academy of Music in Kraków 2022 Honorary Degree of Doctor Honoris Causa

A word of thanks

A word of thanks

Your Magnificence Rector Widłak, Members of the Senate, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Very dear Elżbieta!

I was deeply moved by the wonderful commemoration of Krzysztof Penderecki that I was honored to witness yesterday. The mere fact that high-ranking political representatives were participants in this ceremony, shows how a musician is understood as a treasure of international importance here. This wonderful commemoration will be equally as unforgettable to me, as the honorary degree which the Krzysztof Penderecki Academy of Music in Cracow has chosen to bestow upon me today.

I thank you dear Rector Widłak for these more than kind words.

You are granting me an honour that fills me with pride and joy. It was almost four decades ago that Paul Sacher introduced me to Witold Lutosławski and at the time I would not have dreamed that I would get to enjoy such a profound relationship with Poland and its cultural creators. But shortly after this first encounter with Lutosławski, I was fortunate to give the world premiere of his Chain II in 1986. On this occasion, Paul Sacher conducted the Collegium musicum in Zurich and it was Witold Lutosławski that had dedicated this work to him, the patron of the arts. This incredibly fortunate encounter with Lutosławski gave me a much richer life than I would have had with only the existing repertoire. In his music, I discovered colours which I had not seemed to need in any previous work. This broadened my perspective on romantic and classical compositions as well.

When Poland celebrated its centenary in 2013, I was privileged to be invited to perform at the 10th Lutosławski Festival, honouring this unforgettable composer and human being. The final concert of the 10th Lutosławski Festival was conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki, whom I considered a kindred spirit.

I got to know and admire him deeply in the early 1980s. I was particularly moved by his Polish Requiem, which celebrated its world premiere in Stuttgart in 1984. This profound musical impression changed my life.

I was fortunate enough to give the world premieres of four compositions by Krzysztof Penderecki during the course of our long friendship: his violin concerto Metamorphosen, composed in 1993 and premiered in 1995. This concerto became my life line in a time of great personal struggle and pain. My husband and father of our 1- and 3-year old children was dying. Krzysztof’s Metamorphosen gave me solace and hope in a dark time and became engraved in my heart. I hope that this great master’s metamorphosis into another dimension was a blessed one.

His Sonata per violin e pianoforte No. 2 followed in the year 2000, and he also composed for me the wonderful Duo concertante per violin e contrabasso and his incredibly difficult capriccio for solo violin, La Follia.

Krzysztof was a great violinist as we all know, and I remember fondly his joy in recognizing that some of the difficulties in La Follia had in fact pushed me over the edge of my possibilities. What a present to my 50th anniversary!

I am shaken to the core by the depth of emotions his scores express – by the architecture of his monumental works. For more than 30 years, we shared an intense and fruitful friendship; during these years he inspired and challenged me more than once.

Krzysztof Penderecki has given me a new cosmos of music.

And I am equally filled with admiration and love for you, dear Elżbieta , a wonderful woman and wife to Krzysztof. You are a truly extraordinary woman.

And now you, esteemed dignitaries of the Krzysztof Penderecki Academy of Music, have chosen me to join the august circle of honorary degree holders of this university, along with Krzysztof Penderecki and Paul Sacher. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this honour.

Taking into consideration all of this personal happiness you are bestowing upon me, I ask myself about the meaning of music on this day.

It is a question which I and countless other artists must ask ourselves, given the barbaric, illegal war of aggression Vladimir Putin is waging against Ukraine. Can music achieve more than giving us two blissful hours on the night of a concert?

Us musicians are ambassadors. Through music, we want to enable people to recognize one another. In music, one heart speaks to another, beyond all ethnic, religious, national or other boundaries. We share the same hopes and wishes and rights – and in music, we can find this common ground, as well as the power to overcome political mistakes, meeting at eye level.

In music we can feel united, we can feel one.

Our message has no room for hatred. No matter where the music is from, no matter how foreign it may seem at first; the profound feeling of the creative spirit strikes us to the core, and our heart recognizes with astonishment and joy that it is a reflection of our most inner self.

Working with my foundation, I try to educate young musicians who consider music their life's calling. Because it is not a profession, it is a calling. To rise to this calling, it is not enough to be a master of one’s instrument – but more importantly to not turn a blind eye to the world around us. Now more than ever, this is true: we cannot close our eyes to war, or declare ourselves as Apolitical.

I am very proud of all my fellow musicians around the globe who have made their views crystal clear and public. Who are not afraid to call the Russian president Vladimir Putin and his helpers what they are: war criminals.

And I am proud of all my fellow musicians who try to help, even when being aware of their helplessness. For example through innumerable benefit concerts, sometimes featuring Russian and Ukrainian musicians together. Thus, the Ukrainian pianist Alexei Gorlatch and the Russian pianist Sergey Belyavsky performed together at Frankfurt’s Paulskirche, collecting funds for medical supplies needed in Cracow in order to transport them to Ukraine.

Like every war, this war is a catastrophe. It is truly heartbreaking. It is the worst humans can do to their brothers and sisters. And this war is happening on your Polish doorstep. I have only an inkling of the horror this war must spark in your souls.

I am all the more grateful for the overwhelming willingness to help you are showing your Ukrainian neighbours. Almost every citizen of this country is involved in various aid activities. And they share their living quarters with refugees. I have the deepest admiration for the extraordinary heart of the Polish people. Your heart truly goes out to the Ukrainians, to this courageous and peaceful nation which has been attacked by Putin in the most brutal manner.

Krzysztof Penderecki took an unmistakable stand in his works. Consider only his Polish Requiem or his Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, or Seven Gates of Jerusalem. His monumental St. Luke’s Passion. Today we need his musical testament more than ever.

As a musician, I am deeply convinced that music offers us a great chance to change the world for the better.

For centuries, musicians and composers have been committed to social progress. Therefore, receiving this honorary doctorate fills me with enormous gratitude. For I believe that this honour is not just meant for me personally, but I hope for it to bring the power of music and it's magical quality to influence society to the forefront of human development.

Thank you for your time and attention!

Anne-Sophie Mutter

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