Béatrice - profile

Béatrice Muthelet



What do you need to feel at home while on tour? To feel at home while on tour is almost impossible, but there are things that make traveling and separation easier. I try to do the things I don’t have time to do at home, and make the most of this ‘away’ time so I don’t miss my three children!

I always bring along a bag full of vitamins, a yoga mat and a few different workout DVDs – I aim to do an hour a day, which helps me and my back stay in shape on long rehearsal or travel days. And then there is daily restaurant food and occasional drinking!

I thank the 21st century for Skype, MMS and SMS so I can stay in touch with loved ones. I always bring a few books and films – you should try and lift my suitcase. I have to say I enjoy this glimpse back into a life I used to have pre-family. I even manage to read the paper at breakfast!

And last but not least, I’m happy to give undivided attention to my instrument and if I need to practice I can take the time I need without compromise.

If I feel lonely, I can always call up a few colleagues and hang out together for a nice meal and quite honestly, the time passes so quickly!

The first piece of music you fell in love with: The piece that first made me dream was Smetana’s Die Moldau – it was on a tape in a collection by Deutsche Grammophon, read by Karl Böhm. My parents gave it to me, along with a tape recorder, and I used to go to bed with it under my pillow and listen until late at night. The music made me dream, I would listen to it over and over again… the fluidity, the sweeping melody, all the details, how all the instruments play together. Looking back I think it already made me want to play orchestra, to be a small part of something big and create beautiful music.

What makes a “perfect” concert? A perfect concert is one where you’re more energized at the end than at the beginning! I’ve had quite a few of those with MCO. Most of the time I look forward to the concert because having an audience there makes all the work worthwhile. Everybody concentrates and is ‘aware’ and ideally takes risks together, which creates some amazing results! When that happens, the concert becomes an adventure and it completely wakes you up! You just listen to each other and react, and if the conductor is very inspired he will try and get more out of you than in any rehearsal, get you to play softer or louder than you ever did, or faster – it can be so exhilarating that at the end you think to yourself: ‘What? We’re already finished?’! After concerts like those, it’s hard to calm down. You need a few hours to get out of this very positive energy! Lovely.

What CDs would you want with you on a desert island? Although I loved my first Smetana recording, the truth is that I no longer listen to music except for what I play! I do go to friends’ concerts, and I also buy recordings on iTunes if I have to learn a new piece I’m not familiar with. But apart from that, I must admit that listening to music since I became a performer is not relaxing for me! It’s too intense! I prefer silence – even when driving – it’s the only way I can let my thoughts wander and nothing interferes.

If on a desert island I would just listen to the sound of the sea and birds and wind in the trees. After having played a piece with amazing people, I have the performance and the sound so clearly in my head that I can’t imagine wanting to listen to a copy of it. It’s so much better in my heart and in my mind!

What’s the best thing about playing with the MCO? That’s easy: it’s a wonderful orchestra! Most of my colleagues will tell you that they love their orchestra and I think that’s pretty rare. The music is getting better and better and I am surrounded by intelligent and motivated people who – despite the fact that they already play at such a high level – want to continue improving. That is one of the greatest pleasures – being proud of your colleagues.

To that you add the chemistry between the musicians. No matter how different personalities are, there is space for everyone and tremendous tolerance. It’s like in a family where you know you are in this together and all want the same thing – to play great music – so that dissolves most of the problems and conflicts. I can honestly say that this orchestra feels like a family to me. I am always happy to reunite with it after a break. I have knows most of the musicians for a long time and shared a lot of experiences! Traveling can be difficult sometimes, but it also means we can all live in our home cities without having to give up playing in the MCO. We can balance other activities and even family life and at the same time be fulfilled musicians.


“An exceptional musician, combining grace and finesse, always aware of what goes on around her, she is a treasure for any group of musicians joining her.” – Sir Simon Rattle

French-German violist Béatrice Muthelet grew up in Versailles before moving to Israel at age fifteen and joining the prestigious Telma Yelin High School of Arts. She became bursary of the American Israel Foundation and received a solid education in violin and viola from Professor Chaim Taub, also enjoying masterclasses from Isaac Stern and Shlomo Mintz. At age nineteen she decided to further her studies in the USA and became Pinchas Zuckerman's first viola student at the Manhattan School of Music, on a full scholarship.

Béatrice then returned to Europe to join the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, first at the Karajan Academy and then as an intern for two more years.

In 2001 she joined the Mahler Chamber Orchestra as principal violist and, at Claudio Abbado's personal invitation, also became a founding member of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.

Since then, Béatrice has been invited as guest principal at orchestras such as Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Munich Philharmonic, Bamberg Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Teatro alla Scala Orchestra, to name but a few.

Her main passion remains chamber music and in 2000 she founded the Capuçon Quartet with brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, with whom she played until 2013 in Europe’s most prestigious halls and festivals. Together, they recorded two CDs produced by EMI.

Other chamber music partners include Martha Argerich, Steven Isserlis, Christian Tetzlaff, Isabelle Faust, Victoria Mullova, Maxim Vengerov, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Hélène Grimaud, Lars Vogt and many more.

In March 2017 Béatrice Muthelet released her first solo album, with German pianist Oliver Triendl, of Harald Genzmer's integral viola works. The recording received five stars in FONO FORUM magazine and was featured on Deutschlandfunk as “die besondere Aufnahme”.

Béatrice’s teaching activities include orchestra academies in Bolzano, Dortmund and, since 2016, coaching the Verbier Youth Orchestra.

In 2018, Béatrice was one of the first members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra to appear as a soloist with the orchestra, where she performed Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with Renaud Capuçon at Settimane musicali Ascona in Locarno.