From the Newspaper “De Limburger” dated 30 June 2007.
Translator: John de Jong/Sonja
His new concert tour in 2008 will bring him to the biggest soccer stadiums in Europe, Canada and Australia. Andre
Rieu’s act has grown into a mega-act and falls in line with the legendary bands like “The Rolling Stones”, “Genesis”,
and “The Police”. All the continents are open to him The musical leader of the Johann Strauss Orchestra has big
plans for the future. “It would be a splendid idea to be the first person to perform on the moon”.
The inner court behind the castle on top of the Pietersberg, resembles the rustic atmosphere of an Italian square. A
babbling three tier fountain stands in front of his newly finished show-piece; a greenhouse. It is built in a classical
style and is also a botanical garden. Andre Rieu, noticeably proud, opens the doors. The tropical plants, some of
which are several feet high, have only been there a short while. “Totally my idea and design. Here I can come and
totally relax. Later on there will be fish, small birds like miniature quail, and of course butterflies.
He lives in this centuries old building for the last 10 years, from which the oldest part dates back to 1452. From the
very first day Rieu has been busy restoring his monumental house. “To me, this house is like an elderly lady in need
of assistance”. When we first moved here it was nothing more than a ruin. I think it is fantastic to restore everything
back into its original state. I changed every brick in my previous house too. If I had not become an artist, I would
probably be earning my wages as an indoor architect”.
This romantic cottage fits the “King of the Waltz” perfectly. The new “Knights Hall”
serves as a reception room. One of the walls of the baroque style decorated room
displays two large paintings. One of Rieu and the other of his wife, Marjorie. The
ornaments against the ceiling and wood carvings on the doors are adorned with
Andre does not only play the classical music that was so dearly loved in the
seventeenth and eighteens centuries by the royal European courts. He also is
“Lord of the Manor”.
The fifty seven year old stand alone violinist is extremely popular all over the world. “The King of the Waltz”, the “Mel
Gibson of the violin” (due to his exuberant hair do), and Rieu-San(little dragon) are some of the nicknames bestowed
on him by his fans. Rieu and the fifty member orchestra and choir of the Johann Strauss Orchestra managed to
break through into the group of super entertainers of the world. But that does not stop him. “I have an enormous
interest in knowledge. There has to be much more to the universe than just what is in our little milky way. If you stop
and think about that for a minute, than the rest is minuscule. Than is a castle, a fast car or success of little value”.
Respect for your fellow man and the joy in life, that is what it is all about according to this musician. “That is very
important to me. I work because I enjoy it. I try to have fun every day. My wife Marjorie keeps a close eye on me. She
overlooks everything I do. And she is not afraid to tell me if she differs. These days he is at home in Maastricht to
prepare for his upcoming, now traditional, concerts at the Vrijthof next weekend. (6,7 and 8 July 2007) He does allow
me a quick peek in the kitchen of his heavily secured castle. Each week he receives tens of
requests for interviews, but the violinist denies most of them. Because he simply has no
time. Rieu and his orchestra are on tour for more than half the year. The other months he
works on new productions. Free time? Rieu barely knows the meaning of the words. “I never
take a vacation. At the most I’ll go with my wife to Rome for a few days or some other place
where I can relax”. Work is always there. And can I still walk down the street? Of course,
that is no problem. And of course I am being recognized, and I would lie if I told you that that
does not stroke my ego. I enjoy it”.
Andre Rieu has grown up to be a true world traveler. As a child he dreamed of traveling from one continent to
another. “I do not go as a tourist. When we are on tour, I do not even leave the hotel. At best I walk from the lobby to
the bus to go to the venue. But I still experience the sphere of the city. I just absorb that. That way I still get the feel
of the environment”. Europe, the United States, Japan, Canada, Rieu feels at home, but he still wants to spread his
wings to other places. Australia will be his goal in 2008. He is extremely popular there. Seven of his DVDs are in
the top ten. “There is no other country in the world where they love me as much as they do. Australia will be a
fantastic but extremely expensive undertaking. My advisers are telling me that I am crazy, but I am going to do it
anyway. We will perform e.g. in the Olympic Stadium, Sidney, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane. Our
orchestra will be seen all over”.
In September he will again depart for Japan. “And since we are in the neighborhood, we’ll just
pop over to Australia for a weeks worth of promotions for our upcoming tour”.
Next year Middle and South America will also get their chance. First Mexico and Brazil and
later on Chili and Argentina. The popularity of the Johann Strauss Orchestra has reached the
Latin American countries. Rieu has sold more than 25 million albums world wide. “We’ll even
go to Red Square in Moscow” he says. “But the time has to be right. And I will determine that”.
One week after the wall in Berlin came down, which seems like ages ago, Rieu received
several requests to perform in the East block countries. “I would perform for eleven people.
Some idea of a rich business man”. The requests also came from China and the oil countries.
“But I do not want to go there either. I do not perform because of the money. First and foremost
I want to perform for the people who attend because they want to and enjoy the orchestra. Private shows are not on
Andre Rieu does not shy away from any challenges. He believes in the principle that almost nothing in life is
impossible. He is serious about his comment that he would like to be the first man on the moon to perform. “He really
means it” says his personal assistant Kerstin Cornelis. “Andre tries to bring every idea that comes into his head into
reality”. But currently there is no space shuttle ready and Rieu is concentrating on earthly matters.
Currently his production shop in Maastricht is very busy with the building of the impressive décor of the Palace
Schoenbrunn in Vienna. The lives of Emperor Franz-Josef and Empress Sissi have deeply impressed Rieu. “We
gave a memorable concert there. than I got the idea to bring this concert to all my fans all over the world. That is why
we are building the façade of the palace to scale and take it with us on tour”. But than three times. Compelled by
necessity Rieu needs several sets. It takes three months by ship before all the materials arrive in Australia. In the
meantime, concerts in other places have to go on as planned. So the décor has to be build in multiples.
The locations that Andre has selected for his mega project are: the Stade in Paris, France, the Boudewijn stadium in
Brussels, the arenas in Amsterdam and Düsseldorf and the Olympic stadium in Munich, just to name a few. In every
place he will perform for a minimum of 30,000 people. “I am a control freak. I look at every little detail. I want to let all
the people enjoy all the beauty of Vienna. That can only be accomplished by copying the environment as closely as
possible. And it has to continue to be affordable for the public. Very elite things do not do anything for me. I make
music that is interesting to the professor as well as the cleaning lady”.
Rieu has little time for the puritan critics in the way he plays his music. Especially in the beginning of his career was
he regularly confronted with negative criticism. “I heard them cry as soon as I played Richard Strauss’”Zarathustra
speaks again. They use that on every laundry detergent commercial. I just let them go on. They are mostly people
who with great difficulty managed to sell 800 albums, while my sales are in the millions. that says enough for me”. At
the Rieu organization music, show and entertainments go hand in hand. “In the Limburg Symphony Orchestra I
experienced a very surprised conductor when some one in the audience applauded. I do not want to be on stage like
that. I bring classical music to the public in my own way, and I hope that I also have awakened their interest in some
more of the heavier classical works. If that happens, I have reached my goal”.
In the meantime he has 120 full time employees.
His entourage travels throughout Europe in two of his own double-decker busses. In the United States he has three
specially designed busses. Just like the president of the United States, who has an agent following him constantly
carrying “the football”- an attaché case which has all the codes to launch rockets-Andre has someone with him who
carries, watches over and cares for his famous and extremely expensive Stradivarius of 1667.
He has immersed himself into the detailed life of the Austrian composer and conductor, Johann Strauss, the man
whose music Andre Rieu can thank him for. “Are there any similarities between us? I think so. Strauss was energetic,
his love of live and the ingenious way in which he combined his business with his art. I definitely see similarities
Andre Rieu is definitely convinced that he will reach the age of 120. If that is true he has a lot of years to look forward
The question as to how he would like to be remembered sounds strange to him. “If I have to give you an answer to
that, I hope that when I am gone they say: “He played real nice music”. “That sounds nice”.
|Even the Moon is not too far
Andre in his Castle's new
Animation picture of the Schonbrunn decor the way it will be set up in Toronto. Picture by the Andre Rieu group.
Around the world they go. On the map for 2008, Australia, Brazil and Mexico.