Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter Speaks About Cell Phone Incident

October 7, 2019, 9:50 PM · Opinions have poured in over Anne-Sophie Mutter's handling of a cell phone filming incident during her performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on Sept. 28. Those opinions have ranged from ardent sympathy for the artist's right not to be filmed to exasperation over a failure to acknowledge the 21st-century norms of young audience members and to communicate accordingly.

Anne-Sophie Mutter
VIolinist Anne-Sophie Mutter.

Now Mutter herself has weighed in, in a New York Times article about several recent incidents that prompted live performers to alter their own performances to address an audience member's cell phone filming.

Here's a summation of what happened during the incident in question: Mutter stopped playing in the middle of the second movement of Beethoven's Violin Concerto to confront an audience member in the front row who had been filming on her cell phone. One report described a confrontation in which the audience member appeared to plead her case, before being ushered out of the all by the orchestra's president. Other accounts have defended the audience member as a young woman who tearfully apologized, did not argue and left without protest.

In the New York Times article, Mutter described the incident as something that grew over the course of the performance. It began in the first movement of the Beethoven, when Mutter first noticed the woman filming her. Mutter was able to get her to stop by giving her a stern look. But that wasn't the end of it. Here is what Mutter said: "The first movement is over, and I’m trying to concentrate and stay calm. Then she takes out a second phone, and a power bank. I continued the second movement, but it’s already boiling in me. I’m totally out of the flow."

"I feel violated in my rights, of my artistic property," she told the Times. "As an artist you take such care when doing a recording — that you have your own sound engineer, that the mics are hung in the right spots. The sound is a part of you, you want your voice replicated in a way that really represents what you have worked on for an entire life. The beauty of such an event, a pop concert as well as a classical concert is really being there, taking it in, having your own personal, really private memory of it."

In a Cincinnati Enquirer article, CSO President Jonathan Martin, who was sitting several rows back from the woman, said that the woman simply wouldn't put her phone away, though once she was asked to leave she expressed respect for Mutter and deleted the recording.

"It was confusing, her logic," Martin told the Inquirer. "The conversation was not productive. I had to ask her to leave. It was very awkward. I never want to be in that position. It's a balancing act. We want audience members to feel comfortable. But there is a social contract. You're there with 2,000 other people. Performers expect to come to the stage without interruption."

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October 8, 2019 at 04:07 AM · Of course this is the case. Mutter knew this, because she knew this was against the law, her rights were being violated and her reputation was at risk. Martin also knew this. I read a lot about this incident, and until Mutter spoke out, I was stunned about how little of the reporting and commenting concerned the legal and financial ramifications, which are considerable. Half of it seemed to be about whether it was ok to "snap photos" at concerts, and whether the classical music scene had become too uptight. The more educated half simply wondered why it wasn't "OK" to hold up their cell phones at Anne-Sophie Mutter's concerts (and- the part left unsaid- just post her performance on YouTube the next day.). Professional musicians used to get significant royalty checks from recordings. We no longer do. Teachers used to have no problem whatsoever getting their students to purchase recordings (as, like, with money--not on YouTube!). I speak from experience, as a union symphony orchestra musician of 2 1/2 decades (Hi, Laurie!) and a current Suzuki teacher of over 2 decades! Let's hold the line on PIRATING, which is what holding up cellphones at concerts is! Have your students buy real recordings, and go to concerts!

October 8, 2019 at 04:53 AM · ASM is in New York Times! Well done. I think this is the largest positive outcome. Finally, at least readers will know, the classical concerts are exist, ASM is a violinist, that Beethoven wrote a violin concert and it has at least two parts...

It would be interesting to see the statistics in i-tune before and after...

October 8, 2019 at 05:58 AM · I don't see it as primarily a legal issue, more one of ensuring that the performer can give of their best without unnecessary distraction. In cricket we might see play halted on account of apparently trivial issues such as sunlight being reflected from a spectator's watch.

October 8, 2019 at 06:31 AM · She was totally right! Not only on the field of author rights, quality, concentration etc...Can you imagine what would be , for the audience, a concert where every second someone of those 2000 people starts to hold up a phone. When going to a concert I want silence, and the possibility to give over to beauty without being distracted every two seconds by people passing the time filming their experiences instead of living them....

October 8, 2019 at 01:53 PM · Remember when ASM said she was going to retire at 50? I'm so glad she didn't.

October 8, 2019 at 02:47 PM · As a person who only gets to see a concert once every three years, I treasure the opportunity to enjoy it. When audience members hold up their cell phone to record a video, it is frustrating for me as a person of short stature. It is highly inconsiderate if you block the people behind you. It is also distracting to see the cell phone screens of the people around me. So in addition to the issues raised in the article, please be considerate of fellow members of the audience.

October 8, 2019 at 02:51 PM · I have a feeling these days that a lot of people don't understand the primary reason for going to an artistic experience whether it's a play, a movie, an art exhibit, a concert, or even reading a book. Going to an event means being present and letting the experience happen - letting it into yourself - and if it's successful, you'll walk out with a new perception, a sense of change, and perhaps a wider scope of seeing within yourself. An artistic event is three elements. First is the performer/writer/artist who creates the artistic experience or the work. Second is the work/instrument/event that is the center of the experience. Third is the audience/reader who experiences the event. The artist creates the event, the event communicates, and the audience responds. What is important, even vital, is what the audience takes away from the event. What lasts? What burns into the audience and changes their lives? For this you need to be present, and take the risk every artistic event poses. Sometimes the takeaway will be little to nothing. For whatever reason, it came, it went, and that was that. That's part of the necessary risk of an artistic event. However, when it comes together - when something happens that grips the audience, something profound can happen. But you have to be really present in your focus and concentration. As an audience member you are not a spectator. You are a participant in the experience, and making a video, a recording, a text, a photo of the event is little more than a distracting shadow. It takes away from the experience. It steps back and gives little more than a tiny slice of what is happening. Most importantly, it takes you, the individual watching the event, away from the event. You end up looking at the event rather than participating within it, and if that is the case you are wasting your time. Know this - you are not a journalist recording something. You are there to be a participant in the event. So leave your recording device at home, or in your purse or pocket. Just because something is convenient, doesn't mean it belongs at an event. Take the risk of experiencing the moments. This isn't elitist or old fashioned. It is vital to the arts. You need to be present in your body and senses. Indeed, focus and concentration are necessary. The takeaway is in your mind, in your soul, your heart, and in your being, not in your iPhone. Do yourself a favor. Turn it off, and surrender to the moments. The takeaway will be richer than any video, photograph, or recording.

October 8, 2019 at 05:25 PM · Hear hear, Michael! These distractions trivialize the experience. I wonder how many of those who defend what they see as a new social norm will wind up wondering why nothing has meaning anymore - even though they themselves have prevented art from being a meaningful experience.

October 8, 2019 at 08:54 PM · I support ASM entirely! How rude of the other woman to have caused an interruption of the performance by attempting to film her without permission.

October 9, 2019 at 12:02 AM · I'm really amazed about the buzz. Legal stuff? Asm was just not feeling well that day. In Dutch we say she used the poor girl as a "pissing pole", not sure how to translate that correctly. Sorry for the bad language

October 9, 2019 at 11:15 AM · Michael Kennedy said it all. As the mother of a violinist I look at the years and years of training to get to a point of presenting a work to an audience.The basic requirement for an audience member is to show respect to the artist. You bought the ticket, enjoy the experience first hand in that moment. Your cellphone not only distracts the artist, other audience members, but you too - it will not be the same when you play it back tomorrow. The experience of a live performance is simply not there. Young audiences are not excluded when they are told not to use phones, they are taught some boundaries and respect. Never a bad thing.

October 9, 2019 at 11:35 AM · Just be present and listen to the music with your full concentration. It is of the moment. Experience the beauty of your fortunate life, to be hearing ASM. It’s fleeting.

October 9, 2019 at 04:33 PM · I felt I needed to reply to @rick about the pirating portion of the comment.

Do you think that someone holding his phone, recording and posting on YT will be pirating the work? The legal side of things say yes, but in the end, do you really think someone will go download a phone recording and say that he had a great listening experience from it and would feel satisfied enough, not to buy the actual professional recording?

If I wanted to watch great performances of musicians, I will of course go see it and if I can't because the particular artist is not stopping in my country, then I will find a professional recording posted on Youtube, by the actual orchestra... for free still... Which, in turn, if I am satisfied, I will buy a recording.

To be clear, I am not saying that what happened was right or wrong, that's not the point of my reply. I think that the definition of 'pirating' is not ideal in this case. While true legally, in practice it is not realistic and should not be used to explain royalties being lost because of it. I personally think that it can be instead used for the opposite effect but the classical setting makes it difficult to do so vs the more pop concerts.

That would make for a more in depth discussion in another thread as its more or less related to this article.

October 9, 2019 at 05:38 PM · Part of me agrees, but the other part has begun to ponder the implications. Any artist who was filmed without permission during a performance from classical to pop, rock and country, would then be able to halt performances to ask the 50-100,000 people in attendance to not film the concert? Would Michael Jackson have stopped during a performance? Does his estate now have a legal right to sue anyone over the last 50 years who recorded a television special, used a camcorder while at a concert or posted a video from a concert before his death on YouTube? What about the annual Cleveland Clinic at the Park concert? Would guest artists ask the throng out in the heat to not record them? The final questions are: how do you balance the artists wishes with those who paid money to be there? Would the audience begin to shrink if they knew ahead of time they are not allowed to immortalize their concert experience with a photo or video? Careful what you wish for.

October 9, 2019 at 06:27 PM · The Seattle Symphony bans any recording or photography equipment during performances. Cell phones are to be shut off. The Seattle Shakespeare company has the same rules and announces them before every show. Both the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Shakespeare Company are operating in the black these days. I don't know of any indoor classical music or theater organizations here that allow cell phones or recording/photographing, and we have a vibrant arts scene. It's a different expectation for outdoor performances, which are more informal anyway. People sit on the lawn, eat picnics, drink wine, etc.

I don't know why it's "elitist" to ask people to learn how to behave in public. Especially adults.

October 10, 2019 at 08:43 AM · AMEN TO MICHAEL KENNEDY'S REPLY ABOVE ~ (16)

When the unusual Incident involving the Great Violinist, Anne-Sophie Mutter, being forced to Stop in mid-stream of the 2nd Mov't Larghetto of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, occurred, I was at once stunned by a lack of concern Not expressed by so many Responders, seemingly unaware or totally disregarding of all that goes in to a Live performance of Beethoven's Violin Concerto with the superb Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in Music Hall, a known classical music venue, and certainly in the Two Hundred & Fifieth Anniversary Year of Master Composer, Ludwig van Beethoven's Birth, being celebrated throughout the global International Concert World?!

Michael Kennedy makes a very strong case with his Three Points on the Essence of Live Music Performance ~ Presently short on time, there is no need to reiterate his words: they are spot on! And, Ms. Mutter's New York Times Interview with her gracious recall of all which was occurring in the 1st movement

whilst trying to hold it in yet maintaining her musical focus & in every nano second of being The Seen 'Puppeteer' - (analogy for 'civilians' of what's truly involved in presenting Great Music by rare artist performer's) - making the notes with her enriched vibrant Mutter Sound (self-described by ASM regarding needs for exact placement of microphones by a personal Sound engineer who Knows The Artist Well), was becoming an unavoidable & sadly inevitable harmful situation to her more than pre-prepared over many decades artistry which would finally necessitate stopping the front row audience member by Ms. Anne-Sophie Mutter, herself. An artist of such high caliber won't tolerate their own errors in any Live public performance less a non professional person there to listen & absorb an artistic experience but Live filming which is, to be blunt, the equivalent of jack hammering outside one's private bedroom window in mid sleep or upon being violently awakened by such. To make Music & in sync with a full symphony orchestra requires 'peace' and respectful concert manners from audience's in the Concert Hall knowing exactly what and why they purchased tickets to hear a world renowned artist!

YouTube/ SchmooTube hasn't any viable excuse for a violation of copyright of an artist's concert performance, & having made a recording of Shostakovich's 1st Violin Concerto for German Sudwestdeutsche Rundfunk with the Bamberg Symphony & Assoc Conductor to HvK in Bamberg's glorious 13th Century Abby, I can attest and authentically confirm recordings made in Germany by foreign artists & certainly in Mutter's pre-eminent position are highly protected by strict adjherence to copyright & artist's contractual agreements. The audience member had

absolutely No Rights to film nor audio record a 'Star' Deutsche Grammaphon Recording Company Artist. Period!

What is deeply hurtful to many of us who have loved the violin our entire lives & practised as publicly lauded Olympic athletes who train so vigorously for their shorter life-spans as Olympic level Gold Medalists, achieving rare heights of performance, yet still not receiving deep respect deserved as Olympic Medal Musicians, who at least are more fortunate to enjoy lifetime performance careers if bodily health is actively maintained non stop! As my great violin mentor, Jascha Heifetz's, first words uttered to us - his 7 original pupil's on our opening day of study with Heifetz said, "Pupil's! There are No Shortcuts!"

All string teachers, professional orchestral players & teacher's in general need to re-group or re-visit the reason/s they/we all chose to make making music our Life Profession, because to use the profound words of a very cultured violinist colleague of mine:

"Being a Violinist or Solo Violinist is a Life Sentence ~"

Anne-Sophie Mutter is - nor ever has been an outspoken artist of anything other than Music throughout her career. This very

grave situation forced her to Act & do so in behalf of salvaging her own artistic standards. Under great duress, Anne-Sophie Mutter rose to the occasion and the International Music World has, thank heaven's, more than taken notice ~

Thank You's to Ms Mutter are more than in order at an Internet intersecting with Classical Music Art in Our Time . . .

Elisabeth Matesky *

*I've no doubt both Mr.'s Heifetz and Milstein would have acted in like manner as ASM . . .

October 10, 2019 at 12:12 PM · If you are sitting behind, or near someone who is recording a performance on a mobile phone it is terribly distracting. I have been at concerts where members of the audience have asked others to stop filming.

Recently I was at a concert when someone 3 rows in front started filming. I tried to think that this is the modern way and not to get upset about it. After a while she did stop but it does interrupt your enjoyment.. I'm trying to think maybe we just need to get used to it, like we have to people taking photos of paintings in galleries...

October 10, 2019 at 12:27 PM · Would it not be interesting to now have journalist finding and getting an interview from the young lady herself? Such a public shaming could have had severe consequences for her well being? I would imagine the psychological impact for this young lady is something none of us would wwish to endure?

Please spare a thought to the other side of this story, a side no one here has heard, and perhaps pray for her wellbeing?

I like the quote from the Nethelands about the pole, we have a saying here in France which roughly translates that "drumming is not the way to capture the hare" It would be wiser to have and more civilised in my opinion, to have found other avenues to conquer cell-phone gate.

October 10, 2019 at 05:33 PM · I think Anne Sophie Mutter was right. Video recording by someone sitting in the front row is not only disturbing the artist, but also the audience sitting behind. A new problem seems to arise: the forest of handheld fans beating in time or not when temperature raises in summer. In july I went to Evian and had to close my eyes during the Janine Janssens Brahms concert to enjoy the music. I am a very pêacefull man, but I have to admit the limits of this when I see the waves of handheld fans in a concert.

October 11, 2019 at 10:43 AM · This happened because a generation of young folks see musical events as being about them. They shine their cell phone lights, take selfies, revel in their own wondrous coolness, sing along with the performer, dance for each other and pay only modest attention to the actual music, which is usually mediocre anyway.

To such self-indulgent audience members who happen upon a Beethoven Concerto, it is just one more music festival for them to film, feel part of and put on Facebook and Instagram to embellish their own identity.

October 12, 2019 at 07:53 AM · I remember going to a concert where Pinchas Zukerman was performing. Before even beginning to play, he had identified people in the audience with cameras and recording devices. He pointed them out one by one and said "You, you, you… put that away please."

But then that was in the 1980s.

October 12, 2019 at 02:51 PM · Is there something measurable that one can fix numbers to here? I know that for laptops in seminars, the users think that they are multi-tasking but in fact if they did the tasks one after the other it is more efficient, it gets better them using a laptop reduces the retention of the people around them, this research was done by people at stanford I have not got the doi to hand. I would guess that one could measure audience musical retention and see what the difference is with and without electronic gadgets. Any one know some psychologists?

October 13, 2019 at 10:05 AM · When people fidget with their screens during performances at the theatre or during concerts the flickering is distracting for people sitting nearby. Out of courtesy for fellow audience members you shouldn't do it.

Listening to a live performance of Beethoven performed by leading artist is not the same as sitting at home watching TV. You're meant to concentrate and be in the moment with the work of art being performed. Replying to messages on whatsapp can wait.

This is before we even get to unauthorised recordings and issues of piracy and respect for the performers.

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