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Anne-Sophie Mutter and the strapless gown

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's opening night has always soared with star power.  On Sept. 16, when the BPO opens its 2017-2018 season, the orchestra will welcome, for the first time, the German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter.

BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta calls it a coup.

"We've been trying for a number of years to get her to come here," said Falletta, who will be conducting the concert. "She never comes to the United States.

"It had to be right, at a time when she could manage to come here. She was so excited about it, that we could make it work. She's a wonderful player, very glamorous. I don't know if you'd say she was the first, but she's the epitome of a superstar violinist."

Mutter will be playing the popular violin concerto of Tchaikovsky. She is sure to give it a special kind of pizzazz. She plays with a Romantic flair, taking liberties where the music allows, and filling it with her own personality.

And speaking of personality, Mutter has always radiated glamour.

As a girl, she performed with the celebrated conductor Herbert von Karajan, who got her career off to a dramatic start. As a young woman, she startled the world by marrying Karajan's lawyer, another jet-setting figure. They had two children.

He died in 1995, and in 2002, Mutter married another suave older man  pianist, conductor and composer Andre Previn. Now divorced, they remain friends.

The eyes of the world have always been on her. And early on, Mutter became famous for an innovation that has to do with both glamour and music.

She made waves when, still in her teens, she had the idea to perform in a strapless gown.

"She wanted to feel the vibrations of the violin against her skin rather than against dress," Falletta explained. "Once she started to wear a sheath, without shoulders, everyone imitated it. It's common now for women violinists to wear shoulder-less dresses."

The roster of violinists who have followed Mutter's lead includes many who have performed not long ago in Buffalo. Jennifer Koh, Elissa Lee Koljonen, and Mayuko Kamio.

While her fellow violinists employ a variety of designers, Mutter has been faithful to one designer from the word go. At 17, she settled on John Galliano -- once a designer with Dior in Paris, now with his own firm.

As a concert artist, she needs a designer she can trust. Reliability is key. Her gowns have to allow for freedom of movement. They have to create no anxiety, require no fussing on stage.

Mutter has joked about her professional needs, discussing her clothes in workingman's terms.

"Basically my dresses are all the same, just different colors, it's all the same style," she once told "It's comfortable, and it works," she added. "I don't have to think about it, I almost don't have to try them on. It's like a uniform. Sometimes I think it's like a plumber's uniform. I mean, it looks probably a little nicer. Once I get into them, I'm kind of in the mood. I know it really does help me, to look good."

Falletta, who has also had to choose concert clothes for practical reasons, emphasized that the violinist adopted the fashion for the sake of her music.

"Her reason was to feel the violin against her body," she reiterated.

Mutter, in the midst of a European tour, managed to find a few minutes to corroborate that.

“I love this intimate contact with my Stradivari. A companion of over 30 years now," she wrote in an email to The News.

"A strapless gown lets me forget the worries of feeling restricted in movement by clothing and sink into the embrace with my beloved fiddle.”







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