J.B.Kerner Interview with André Rieu
ZDF November 29, 2005 translated by Helma Bauer/Sonja
Johannes Kerner is a German talk show host. During this talk there were several guests: André Rieu,
Henning Scherf (Former Mayor of Bremen), the comedians Bastian Pastewka, Ch.M.Herbst, Michael
Kessler and Jürgen Tonkel.
He makes our hearts beat in three-quart time and he gives
the Germans politician a chewing out. Welcome to the double
Grammy nominated André Rieu! André, you know we will talk
a little bit about politics. I said it already in my introduction.
Andre: Oh, I see.
When you were here as guest in 2004, you told me about a talented violin player of only 4 years old, called
Akim. How is he today?
Andre: Very good. He was only 3 years at that time. Three weeks ago we were at a Dutch TV
broadcast, he is now 5 years old. Things are going unbelievable well with him.
How much progress has he made musically?
Andre: Well, I was able to get him excellent music instruction. I gave him a violin and I support
the lessons and I have weekly contact with him. I really feel responsible for him.
He is an exceptional talent. How do you protect that little boy, so there will be no excessive demand on
him too early?
Andre: That´s exactly the point. When I brought him for the first time on national TV. after that
we took care that he was out of reach for three weeks and now he can do his lessons
with all the peace and quiet he needs.
Who takes care of him in everyday life. I assume he has parents.
Andre: His grandmother has much of the responsibility and his parents. I spared no effort to
find people who are used to taking care of very talented children and I finally found them.
Where did you have him with you on TV, was it Dutch TV?
Andre: Yes, exactly
Okay, I see, it brings him slowly, but regularly in touch with the public.
TV CLIP with Akim is shown
Does his whole face always glow like that or do things sometime get on his nerves.
Andre: No, he is almost every day in a good mood. He is always making fun and looking for
new jokes. Maybe you remember the Concert Special, a year ago and Otto was there.
Otto makes always fun and when he performed a joke, Akim immediately imitated him.
So, he always makes fun.
Actually I think you do not have the time to pay the attention for him that you would like, because these
days you are so busy winning over the people in the USA. On the classical charts in the US, you´re
number 1 and you´re nominated for 2 Grammies, how did that happen.
Andre: Ha, what a question. How could this happen. It looks like they are happy with the things I do.
I have that impression too. I mean, in the Music world the Grammy is something like the Oscar in the movie
world. You must be very happy with this.
Andre: Yes, One nomination is for best instrumental arrangement and the other is for... ...As a
matter of fact, I don't know what for. But one more.. (The second pre-nomination is for best classical
However, once again a nomination. You display the Dutch laid back ease of handling things. Kind of: Oh,
well, lets just see and find out what will happen. As a Dutch musician with success not only in the
Netherlands, but all over Europe, how are you going to win the USA. While in fact it is a totally different
market than the European market.
Andre: I do not thing it is a different market. I simply go over there, organize concerts in halls,
the same as I do here and the people come and we play.... same as here.
Kerner: But I have the impression... My experiences with US music stars is something like: they are
surrounded with managers, make-up artists and endless bodyguards... Private jets, etc.
Andre: But I am not like that. I do not do that. I simply go over there and.. I have to say, since the whole
organisation is in my own hands, things are going much better. I kicked out the people who worked for me
in the USA and now I do it all by myself.
You mean you had people in the US, but they were not doing a good job...
Because they did not really do the work or what was the problem?
Andre: You know, this America feeling of years ago, Like we´re flying to the moon and so on...., does not
exist in the music business anymore. Now it goes more like: Hey, can you give 2 percent and 2 percent
more and so on.. and in the end nobody is really happy when it's a good deal but also nobody is unhappy
when the deal is lost. There is no......
You mean there is no spirit behind it?
Andre: Yes, and when I felt this, that they are not really behind it....I said okay, kick them out and we´ll do it
ourselves and it works fine.
You are going to do another tour in the USA, it means hearts will be beating in three quarter time in
Is America the end or is it going on...for example what about China. In the industry everybody is now talking
about China. Is it a market for music too.
Andre: Yes, of course. the whole world. My music is unlimited. My music is for everybody. But I have to
say I´m interested in politics too, and China is not desirable for me at this times. The ideal conditions for
me is when everybody has a chance to go to the concerts. My audience is Mr. Everybody. And as long as
the situation is like it is now, that not everybody can go to a concert even if they could raise the money ...at
the present you will find a few very rich people and then there is nothing...it´s a great pity.
It means you will not go to China as long as...?
Andre: I´have been invited and they say: 'Please come, money is no object, you have only to come and
play. It was the same situation when the wall came down. I received a call from Russia to come and play. I
asked about the audience and they said Yes, about people or so.
Andre: I don´t know. I am sure rich people. And I don't want that. Not like that..When I play I
want to play for MY audience. As long as things going in China like they are I will not play there
Do the Chinese people know Stromberg? (this question is addressed to the comedian guests. Stromberg
is a comedy show on German TV starring Chr.M.Herbst)
Herbst: Stromberg is hardly known in Germany
Now, do not put it down.
Herbst: How did you come up to that question?
Quite simply. I am responsible for the questions and I just throw them out to the crowd. Do I now have to
justify my questions? ( It´s all said with a lot of laughter)
Herbst: I did not think to not request certain questions. Yes, of course there is Stromberg in China. And I
am responsible for the lie. :-))
Thank you, you answered the question. And I can handle the lie.
André, the conquest of the USA will be successful, that means a peaceful conquest with music. Do the
people recognize you in the streets of America- Or is it not yet like that...
Really? Due to your TV appearances I would think. André when was the last time that you were not
recognised in the Netherlands.
Andre: Not recognised? Oh, that is difficult, it is not possible anymore. Although in
Maastricht, where I live, it is not such a big city, about 150.000 citizens and they all
know me very well. They say: Oh, André is in the town, let´s just leave him alone.
You live in a castle, do you not? A castle in the center of the city.
Andre: No, not in the center. On the outskirts of the city.
I have read that it is in the center of the city, and it brings a picture to my imagination of a farmhouse with a
view on one side of the Alps and on the other side of the North Sea. It would be everybody's dream.
Andre: No, it is not like that. It´s not really a castle.
A picture of the castle is shown. The guests had a lot of fun about the understatement ( no, not really a
castle)(Farmhouse) and are kidding and comparing the castle with subsidized housing.
I see, it is a very special castle. And when you are in the town, the people know this guy needs some time
to relax, let's just not talk to him.
Andre: The people are very kind and they do leave me alone. But when I am in Amsterdam for example,
people come up to me and ask for an autograph.
Is it sometimes sort of pain. When you want to go for a walk with your wife and you want spend some time
Andre: Yes of course, sometimes it is too much. Absolutely.
But it´s still tolerably, is it not´t it. You are able to deal with it.
Andre: Yes, it´s okay.
Do people think it is normal that you live in a castle. Or do they say Oh boy, he just held tight onto a fiddle
and now can afford a castle. Is there any jealousy like we know so well here in Germany. Is that in the
Andre: Mmm, I don't know. But the people in the neighborhood are very nice and they are aware of the
fact, that the house had been left in a neglected and very bad condition by the previous owner. And André
is slowly renovating and restoring it.
And for that reason they are pleased with it. Is there in the Netherlands also a tax rate especially for rich
people, because in Germany that will be established soon. Did you ever hear of something like that in the
Andre: No, I don't think so. I don't believe.....
Maybe the tax rate in Holland is big enough as it is.
Andre: I have to say I´m not that much involved with money..... And financial management.
Tonkel (one of the comedians): No, he only throws it away. (He said it in a nice way and there was a lot
Mr. Scherf, what do you think about the rich men-tax
Mr. Scherf: Once I discovered that an ordinary secretary is paying more tax then a CEO, much more. And
that is not right. It should not be. Every one has to pay their part of a social community. But it has to be
fair. We all want safe streets, kindergarten and schools and so on. But the tax has to be balanced.
André, you said you are a social and political interested person. Are you willing to pay more money
because you make more money.
Andre: Absolutely, absolutely. And as it was said before that is only fair. I glad that I live in Europe
compared with the situation in America because here things are more or less regulated and is not
everything is privatized.
You are a significant business with 130 employees who help with the success of it all. Do you have any
new ideas which would make all this work even better.
Andre : Rules.., I don´t know. I think the mentality is the thing which should be changed. I am, for example,
vehement against unions. I think employers should take much better care of their people, should be
responsible, like the way they do it in Japan. They don't know any unions in Japan, because there it is
normal that they are responsible for their people till death. And I think that is good, that is how it should be.
It is a nice thought but experience shows it does not work like that.
Andre: I know, I know that but that is what has to change, the attitudes and then it would be must more
enjoyable at work. If I would be First Minister, and there is a chance ( :-))), (with a sideways glance to
Mr.Scherf) I would right away try to make it possible that there is more enjoyment is for people at their at
How can you give people enjoyment at work? We will first ask our politician what he thinks about that.
Andre wants to abolish the unions...
Scherf: No, I don't agree with abolishing unions. All people, specially those that do not have a fair boss as
he is (clapping Andre on his shoulders) have to have the opportunity to react to something should have
the opportunity to react against something. When you are organized you are in a better position to fight
against something. When you have to fight by yourself you will be pretty helpless and then your boss could
say; Hey, if you do not like it you can leave. There are a lot of people who would love to have your job. So
they unions give some collective protection and because of that I support unions and am a paying member.
So, how could one bring smiles back on the faces of the working people?
Scherf : To serve as a model. Do not preach. Serve as a model and simply persuade the people.
Andre : And make people aware of their own responsibility. That is very important. Everybody should be
aware, that nothing is possible without your own effort. In my orchestra I do not have any substitutes. The
trombonist knows that he is the only one. He is never sick also because he knows that without him we
cannot work. Too many people think they do not need me, things work fine without me too.
With an orchestra I think it is quite different. But I can just imagine there is a smiling mayor ( Mr.Scherf) on
his bicycle meeting the nurse after her triple shift, the policeman after his 36 hour day and the doctor after
a 8 hours of surgery and 10 hours of emergency service. How would give these people more pleasure in
Scherf : Even then they want to see a smiling face. And exactly with that friendly manner you can reach
even people which are broken down from work, because they know they need it. They need acceptance,
positive boost and cheerful motivation.
Tonkel: And that is the task of the cabinet. And it is important that daily work will be cherished. To say:
Hey, you are doing it fine. The opportunity is missed and I think that is a pity.
Kessler: You said to appeal to people's feeling of responsibility. I think there is a lack
of education these days. A lack of education in responsibility. It is getting more and
more: how much can I grab for myself instead of willingness to work for the community.
Enjoyment yes, but enjoyment and responsibility for the business must be taught.
Andre: You just said music is another matter. Of course, it´s different but nevertheless
you can compare...
Yes, but that´s why I talked about nurses, policemen and doctors, etc, because it is another lifestyle than
an actor or musician...
Are there any mentality differences between the Germans and the Dutch? Can you feel a difference
beyond the border,
Andre: You have to see it more as a European thing. These days every European is complaining oh, we
have it so bad and they say it while sitting in their second car. Ooooh things are going so bad in Europe,
and I wonder whether it is reality.
So there is no difference between the Netherlands and Germany
Andre: No, I do not think so. It´s all over Europe. But things are not going that bad in Europe, things are
going quite well. That is my personal view.
Do we complain too much?
Andre: Yes I would say so, absolutely. Yes. When I see in the supermarket twenty different kind of chips,
I would say things cannot be that bad, as long as we have such abundance.
Herbst: But you can not decide that because of an bountiful variety of chips. Maybe people have bad
times in other ways. Possibly something else we are missing. Maybe there is a mental apathy.
Okay, André after going to America and getting the Grammies, after abolishing the unions, he will give the
people enjoyment on New Year's Day with a special concert. By the way, it is always to say Happy New
Year in three quart time.
Andre: Yes, again and again. At every concert, Again and yet again. I am so tremendously nervous when
I have to go on stage and I still have that stage fright for every concert. People say, hey, come on, you
know what you are doing, but it is always there until I see the audience and then it disappears.
Tonkel : Will Akim be with you on the New Years concert.
Andre: Oh, of course not. Hes already asleep at this time.
Anyway, we can look forward to a big New Year's Concert with André Rieu and also, no secret, to a new
CD called Christmas around the world.
Many thanks André Rieu.
Johannes B Kerner
Right Chr.M. Herbst
At this time you can still watch
the video of this program on
Just hit start on the box with
Andre, he is also on the two
clips under that button.
Dr Henning Scherf