Concert in Brussels
The Forest National on April 3rd, 2001
Concert description by Martine/ Translation by Mary

Wow, What an Evening !

Well, we are starting a quarter of an hour late!
(That’s normal . Don't they say that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’)

He starts with  "I gave you my Heart".     
( I wonder to whom ?)

We started with the usual "hellos" and "How are you".
Now, let’s get down to business.

"L'amour du Danube" (Danube Love) is a soft and magnificent waltz.

"Ramona" that well-known and well-loved hit of the 20s !
    (Well, I can’t say for sure. I wasn’t around then and, in my opinion,
contrary to what Andre said, the majority of his fans weren‘t around then either)

"Hava Nagila", lively and a real toe-tapper.
A perfect example of its opening line " let’s all be happy"
(We know for certain that we will be happy for at least two hours… but what about afterwards ?)

"Tea for Two", No, there isn’t anything wrong with his watch.
Big Ben is really sounding tea time.


"Ole Guapa" a superb tango which he dedicated to the people of Brussels….
Unfortunately, on that particular day, there weren’t any in the audience.
(But he had to play it for all the pretty Belgian women ! Aha !)

"Princesse Csandas", splendid Gypsy music..… lively, warm … simply superbe.


Up to this point those who are not "in the know" can still believe they is attending a normal concert
Lively, friendly, interpreted by talented musicians, directed by a good Maestro.
Yes, that’s normal…
But not more than that. Unless, of course, you take into consideration that rich variation of horns.
Oh, yes, it always starts with them.

"Les Pattineurs"    Ah, listen how the horns imitate the skaters.
Well, alright…so it was a cold day. When it is really cold you do whatever you can to warm up.
Unbeknownst to the Maestro the bottle is being passed around.

Those horns are really superb.
But, the Maestro sees everything that goes on and will finally put them back in their place.


Sheherazade and the Seven Tartars" I’ve never heard him call it "Sheherazade and the Steak Tartars"
(But I’m sure he is bound to do so one of these days).
"Salomé" and "La Danse du Sabre" (The Sword dance) one right after the other …
Not to be confused with Rimski-Korsakov’s symphonic suite.
It starts slow and easy and then finally ends with an infernal beat: superb !

(Who knows how the Tartars grabbed Sheherazade !)

Ah, "The Blue Danube" !
What can I add that has not already been said about it ?
If it is only going to be at Forest National….well, it certainly isn’t the best place to dance.

Our Maestro had forgotten his glasses but that didn't stop him from inviting some spectators to waltz.
(Three couples came up...unfortunately they did not have much room to move around)


At least now we'll be able to move around a little. It's so difficult to sit still when you hear that music.

This time he is on time and the public is late coming back in
( it's only a quarter of an hour...and, it's difficult when there are so many people and you are thirsty !)
He starts by asking everyone if they had their champagne.
(He must be kidding ! We had to fight our way through just to get some coke !)
All those people coming in late are getting a little on his nerves...but, as usual,  he jokes about it.
[(Jokes about the bathrooms not being bilingual  (
Belgium is a bilingual country,  French and Dutch)]


Finally, every one is seated and he can introduce the following piece.

Strauss on his horse, listening to a CD, getting the "tires" changed on his mount,
was inspired by the various noises he could hear in the forge. Here is the result...

"Feuerfest" An anvil is brought out on the scene, a "Belgian" blacksmith
is found in the orchestra and now they are ready to start the piece.
Ohh No ! First of all, the musician/blacksmith has to "tune" his instrument.
After having filed and cleaned his instrument to find the "la" he is ready.
Now it's the Maestro who isn't ready any more.
You must admit that the appearance of our musician/blacksmith does not go very well with his role.
Suddenly there's a strange strip-tease going on and our contrabass/blacksmith is dressed in overalls.

Wow, those shoulders!
(With shoulders like that, I'm sure that if he slapped me I'd still be spinning three days later... )

"Fire fest" is now ready to start. But our iron-man is not quite done with his jokes. There's a lot of
horsing around between our iron-man and "poor little " Marc (Doomen) whose horn practically got
reduced to pieces and finally ended up on the lap of one of the spectators.
A real three ring circus!  And all this was going on while the orchestra was playing with a
calm British stolidity.
(It was super cool and, on top of that, the music was really great)

This was already one of my favorite pieces...but now when I listen to it the
whole hilarious scene comes back to me.

"Funiculi, Funicula", as usual, was the background music while he presented the orchestra...
As usual the mindless ivory keys...

As usual the clarinets running wild...

The usual impromptu interventions by the horns...


"La Chanson de Lara" ( Lara's Song), "Poliushlo Polie", "Stenka Rasin" and "Kalinka",
and last but not least Trio St.
Petersbourg and its Russian folklore. Still as shy and still as great as at their first concert.
In the back, there's the choir of the 14 Virgins of Maastricht
oh, by the way there are actually 15!) which joined the orchestra .
The two together really gets you going.

"Le Bolero" ! What a magical moment!
Grandiose….there just aren’t enough superlatives to describe his interpretation.
It is heavenly. A treat for both the ears and the eyes.
It certainly is difficult to remain unmoved when you listen to this marvelous music.
It is very difficult to explain.
In fact, unless you have attended one of his concerts it is impossible to understand.
That’s how great it is !

With the Radetzky's March we once again bathe in joy and recklessness.
(And after "Le Bolero" that's not easy)  But here we are carried away by the rhythm.
Unfortunately, we all know that this march is always played just beforethe end of concerts in Vienna...
So we know that the "end is near."  
We try to catch the balloons that fall in abundance upon us and our hands turn red because,
instead of catching balloons, we are clapping our hands over and over again.

He leaves the stage...but we know him well. He'll come back. He can't just leave us like that.
We want more and more.


"Strauss & Co", "The second Waltz", "The last Rose", "Stars & Stripes"
And thousands of little silver papers float down from the sky.
(Ooh, looks too much like the end to please me !)

Do you want more ?   "Yeeeesss"
Alright, we will play Beethoven's 5th for you.... entirely !
(And what if some one had said "we dare you !". What would he have done ?
Could he have lasted another three hours ?)

It is with a very serious and inspired air that he starts Beethoven's 5th.
But once again the horns follow their own ideas.
And off we go again on a mad carnival wave.
Everybody is jumping, dancing, screaming, whatever makes them happy.
When I say everybody, I mean everybody. This was going on both on the scene and among the spectators.
And you should have seen him! He was jumping left and right and spinning around.
It was unbelievable !!
(Especially when you are over 20. I speak from experience. My legs are still trembling)

Ohhhh Nooooo!   This time it is really over.
He says "bye, thanks"... and he leaves us.....

This concert was the absolute opposite of a "Fata Morgana"
It was all real... and yet you felt as if your eyes were playing tricks on you

Once again the artist has played his role to perfection.
During two hours he has filled us with joy and happiness.
Two hours do not represent much in a lifetime. But you appreciate it even
more when you realize that 30 seconds can destroy everything.
Thank you, Mr. Rieu
And our thanks to the Johann Strauss Orchestra too
Andre Rieu bolero
And hurrah! Here he comes!
Andre Rieu, Andre Rieu translations
Roland Lafosse