Interview with star violinist Andre Rieu
December 2003/Translated by Helma Bauer/Sonja
Mr. Rieu, on December 18th you will perform during the Jose Carreras-Gala by ARD (TV). You have
supported this organisation for many years. Do you feel it as your duty, as a prominent person?
Duty sounds like having an obligation, but this comes from the heart, you
have to get involved with other people. I am spontaneous and I am happy
The concert for the victims of the storm surge disaster was my suggestion,
and I am often involved behind the scenes. I have been very blessed in
my live, especially in the last 25 years. I want to return something. But you
don't have to shout it from the roof tops.
Now that you are at the height of your success. Do you have to pinch yourself in the morning to
understand this success?
I already perform 25 years on stage and I needed this time. This time was very important to me. I have
formed a unity with my orchestra, we have managed to become a real team
Now the actual work can start, now I can travel the world to make music. My dream has become a
reality. I have build the foundation, and now we start with the actual work. I am not at the zenith, I am
only at the beginning.
How many employees do you have?
About 120, and I know every employee by the first name
How would you describe yourself as a boss?
I´m a very open person, I try to treat my employees fair and loyal.
I don't see myself as a boss or as a commander. The orchestra and
my office know my wishes. I´m a perfectionist and I try to avoid
mistakes. But I´m not hot-tempered or aggressive. If someone makes
a mistake he deserves a second chance. People should enjoy their
work. I make an effort to have a pleasant atmosphere in the orchestra,
in the company. But I demand dedication from my team. I have no
need for people who don't like to work.
Are you aware of the responsibility you have?
Of course. I have the responsibility for my employees and there families.
Sometimes the thought of is a burden, and it worries me. I hope, that I
will never get seriously ill or that something will happen to me. My positive
attitude helps me to go on. I always think positive.
You have been in show business for 25 years. Has it changed you?
I did not change, the circumstances have changed. The concert halls are
bigger, the responsibility is larger too. But I am the same as I have
Do you take days off?
Seldom, I´m a workaholic. I´m not made to be idle.
Do your employees see you sometimes in casual wear?
Never. I am always properly dressed. I don't like the casual style. At home too, I wear suit and tie. It´s
something like my second skin. I like this style and inherited that from my father.
I feel comfortable in it. I like it when I dress myself well.
Than sounds a bit vain.
I am not especially vain, I just feel good in the clothes I wear.
Do you dye your hair?
No, I do not have problems with getting older.
Do you buy your clothes off the rack?
I buy part of the rack, part is tailor made. It´s me. It is´s not a role I play. I love the material, I do dress
up. My sister is just the opposite. She likes the casual style. But I like the more traditional style.
Who selects your ties?
I do. Also I buy the shirts and the suits by myself. I hate shopping and I do it two or three times a year.
Sometimes my wife give me advice like: That tie doesn't go with this suit, or this suit doesn't fit. But it is
my decision what I wear and what don't.
Do you sometimes feel manipulated?
No, I do not tolerate that. I will not be a puppet on a string, I decide over
my time. Every single appointment is only made after consultation with me.
That is important to me, because it´s my life.
How much time do you have available for friends, family, for your
My work fulfills me and I spend a lot of time with my orchestra, the
employees. But I always take time for good old friends too. Then
we sit together in Maastricht, drink wine and talk. That is very
important for me. I need these meetings. I would like to talk to
as many people as possible. And of course to keep talking to the people I already know.
Do you have friends in the showbiz?
That is a difficult question. I know many people in the business, but I do not have real friends there. It is
also quiet difficult, with the constant pressure of the tour rush it is difficult to develop real friendships.
When you do not feel well, who do you call?
I talk to my wife and a handful of people who are always there for me. Those are true friends, who I can
call on around the clock. I need people who deal critically with me, and tell me the truth.
Do you sometimes feel misjudged?
Almost always. Nobody really knows me, I am always put in a false light by the public. Any sort of label
annoys me. I´m just a person who concentrates on his music. I practice my occupation with gratitude
and I live my life in fortunate circumstances. And I don't understand why that is not accepted.
Do the rumors about your marriage with Marjorie annoy you?
We have to laugh almost daily about the speculations over our marriage.
Can your wife really still laugh about your affairs?
Sometimes she´s sad about the reporting, too. She has to accept so many
lies only because she does not want to be in the public eye. Our
arrangement is very clear, I am the public person in the family. I am the one who stands on the stage
and my photo is published everywhere. My wife rather likes to remain rather anonymous. She does not
like this fame about her person and she enjoys the fact that she is able to go shopping without attracting
When we read the speculations in the newspaper together, that she has passed away, is mentally ill, or
has a serious disease it can be quiet depressing. But she´s alive, is doing well, and she is the most
important person to me. And just to clarify, I have never had an extra marital affair.
How do you stay in contact to your wife?
We are always in touch with each other, via ISMS, email or by phone. We are in touch several times per
hour. Marjorie is quite advanced with the new media. She orders everything through the Internet. CD´s
and all the other stuff. She is very smart with the new technology.
Are you ever idle?
No. I never sleep late, I always get up at 7a.m. It is not a set ritual
but I was not born to be lazy.
If you just want to get away from it all, where do you escape to?
We do not go on vacations, we do not care for it. Sometimes we will go
to Rome for 3 or 4.
Rome is a fascinating city. We both like it.
The city of everlasting love.
That´s why we like to go to Rome. It is a awesome city. We can walk
around Rome for hours, sit in the cafés. We really like that.
Do you and your wife eat breakfast together?
Always. That is a regular ritual, it is the start of our day. We need this time for us. Without any
domestic help. Then we dream about the future, make our plans, talk about things. That´s why it´s so
important for me to wake up in my own bed after a concert.
Do you have separate beds?
No, Marjorie and I sleep in the same room and in the same bed.
How much domestic servants do you have?
We only have a cleaning lady. The rest we do ourselves.
Do you cook together with your wife?
I like to cook. Cooking is kind of relaxing. We stand in the
kitchen, I make myself butter bread. ....We really are boringly
Do you mind if the public has a different imagine of you?
Yes. because it is nonsense, but it is part of the game the media plays. I am a completely normal
person. Sorry, but I am not some sort of a exciting hero. I have to disappoint you.
With millions of dollars debt?
I am a businessman and I invest into the future. Everyone has debts, you buy a house or a car on credit.
I have 120 employees, so I have lot more debt.
Who takes care of your finances?
I get the summary about it together with my wife and some advisors. It is a question of trust and I have
had some very bad experiences in the past. Bad advisors have cost me much money, therefore I´m
grateful that my wife and I now make the decisions.
When you´re on the way do you pay cash or with credit card?
I never pay. That does my personal assistant or my chauffeur. I don't
even have a wallet.
Do you know how much money you make?
I can tell that only two or three months later. I have to wait for the
accounts and the receipts of expense. I do not have a monthly salary,
my profit are my earnings.
Do you pay yourself a salary?
Yes, but only for the accounting, for the documents. I do not put
value on it, I am happy when I can do my work without worries.
Do you listen to your own CD´s?
Do you keep a diary?
No, that has never interested me. I would not like to document my live on a daily basis. There are
important moments, which will always stay with me as memories in my head and in my heart, but I
would not like to write everything down. I also do not have any plans to write a biography. I want to
make music and I don't want worry about other things. I think my live is very unspectacular.
Does your wife call you before or after your concerts?
Before the concerts I need my rest. We usually phone after the concerts.
Does your wife come to your concerts?
Of course. Not always, but she regularly comes to my concerts. She is an important critic for me. She
pays very close attention to the smallest detail. I always have a photo of my wife in my violin case.
How do you feel about your violin?
It is a great love. I am fortunate to be able to play this instrument. This violin
is from the year 1667 and I have respect for this instrument. She is a piece
How much is this violin worth?
Value is relative. We set the value, at this moment. For me the value of this
violin is emotional. The experience of this instrument, it was played by so
many artists, it has seen so many wars, so much history. All that determines
the actual value.
Is the violin always in the same room as you?
Always. I take it into my bedroom with me. Together with my wife.
Who will inherit the violin?
I have not thought about that. Later, when I can not play it any more, then I will pass it on. I will feel
obliged to do it. This instrument is too precious to be locked away.
Are your parents still alive?
My father passed away in 1992, but my mother is still alive. She lives in Maastricht an she guides me on
my way. I am very grateful to my parents for their education and their support. Without my parents I
would have never found the way I am on now.
My parents raised me very liberally, they never pressured me. I never had to bend myself to their
wishes and that has made me who I am today.
What was your wife's role in your success?
Her parents are Jewish. Her father had to flee Germany and could only take one box of records along
with him. Shellac, old fashion records with music from the 20´s and 30´s. The popular music of the time.
My wife brought this light classical music into my live. I will always be grateful to her for that.
Is your wife Jewish?
She is half Jewish but she does not practise to her believe.
Are you a religious man?
I do not believe in organized religions, I believe in people. People should
take more responsibility and not always believe in miracles from above. I
grew up in the catholic church and am grateful for this experience. For me as a child there was no more
experience then the catholic mass. This pomp and circumstance with incense, candles and acolytes,
the music. That was a grandiose ceremony. I like to go into churches to meditate but I do not listen to
Are your hands insured?
No. The insurance company would not insure me or my employees. Every insurance company refuses
to do so. I would need such a huge amount of insurance, and it should also cover my employees.
There are so many speculations, therefore the question: Is your marriage intact?
When was the last crisis at the Rieu home?
Believe it or not, we have never had a real crisis. We are made for each other and we compliment each
other. I can not ever imagine a separation from my wife. We are a unit, and we need each other.
Christmas is coming soon. How do you celebrate?
We will celebrate at home. With the typical rituals, a big Christmas dinner, Christmas tree. I am happy
that the family together is on those days.
How many days do you have off for Christmas?
Three days off. Then I can really enjoy it.
Do you have the Christmas presents for your wife and your
No. Not yet. That is what I am going to do on my days off.
I am very sure about what to get, I know my wifes likes and
dislikes very well.
What will you give to your wife?
That I will keep a secret.
Do you remember your first girlfriend?
I was very young.....I met her again at some later date. We would had been a bad match. It was a
illusion love, nothing serious. I was always in love.
Is that different today?
I am faithful. To my wife.
Are you a womanizer?
I am basically very shy, bashful even. Without my instrument, I do not feel self confident. I can not go
into a large group of people with ease, and make small talk. It just is not in me. On stage I feel self
confident and secure, because my orchestra and my instrument are with me.
You have been married to Marjorie since 1975. How did you meet each other?
She was in school with my sister. I was 11 years old, she was 13 when we met for first time. It was a St
Nicolas party, which is traditionally celebrated in Netherlands on December 5. There were about 30
girls but only she caught my eye. She interested, fascinated me. I never lost
sight of her, I always had her address after that day.
When did you disappointed your wife last?
I never really disappointed her. I have never hurt my wife. Thank
god, things like that have never happened. My wife can always
count on me.
Have you ever forgotten your wedding anniversary?
I always forget my wedding anniversary. Every year, but she is not angry with me. I do not need a
special day to remind me. We have now been married for 29 years and I´m thankful for every day.
You are so thankful that you do not wear a wedding ring?
Yes, I do wear a ring. I have it on a necklace..... here you see. But I cannot make music with a ring on
my hand. (I have an interview on tape from 1995, and he wears the ring on his neck there too)
Does your wife wear her ring?
Yes. On her hand.
Thank you very much for the interview.
Tenor Jose Carreras