WALTZING AROUND THE WORLD
De Telegraaf, 21st October 2007 by Jaap Jan de Koet, from Minneapolis
Translation Ineke Cornelissen/Sonja
The success of André Rieu literally has no boundaries. Years ago he seemed to have outgrown Holland.
He is immensely popular in Europe and the USA. Right now he is touring through the USA for the 11th time. Big
sport stadiums are sold out. While he is touring with three buses (Rieu 1, 2, and 3 on the license plates) and 106
persons, the preparations to conquer Australia continue. Anymore? Yes, South Africa and South America are in the
picture too! But also Holland will get its spectacle next year, in the Amsterdam Arena (soccer stadium).
Entertainment, that is what Rieu (58) wants to bring.
"I entertain people, and tell me what is wrong with that. I entertain with
classical music, in a way that is not dull or dusty. It must be fun. I am a
good violinist who plays the most beautiful melodies that exist in the
world. These melodies are very close to me. That is why I perform on
stage every night with pleasure. If you want to speak of a secret recipe, I
think: that's it. I do it, because my Johann Strauss Orchestra and I love
to do it. That is what touches the audience".
With these words the Maastricht violinist refutes the critics of the way he
brings classical music.
"They don't like what I do. Often they have never attended one of my concerts. I would like to say to them: Come
and watch my happy audience!"
André Rieu does not really care. He has a mind of his own. Nobody can stop him. He knows how to please his
audience, without giving them what they want.
"It sounds crazy, but I don't gear my repertoire to the audience's taste. I make music that people love to hear, that is
In the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, the twin city of Minneapolis, we can agree. The 43 musicians of the Johann
Strauss Orchestra enter the hall from the back. They pass the audience on their
way to the stage, They get a standing ovation from the start, from 10.000 fans, who
sometimes drove four to five hours to attend the concert. Waving and giving "high fives"
Rieu walks his triumphal march through the immense hall, which is usually the home of
ice hockey team Minnesota Wild.
On the program are waltzes, the Bolero and Turne a Surriento, sang by the three tenors
from Hungary, Germany and Australia. "Besame Mucho" was sung by the charming
Laura Engel and "Wishing you were somewhere here again", by the Dutch/Australian
Mirusia Louwerse. Very much appreciated by the audience. The patriotic heart was
served by a modest, but fully sang along "America the beautiful".
Afterwards Rieu explains: "Yes, that is a must!".
The flying Dutchman was very content in St. Paul. "These are the great nights.
The people responded from the first moment. Also my introductions and gags
were received well. Last week we performed in the Canadian Saskatoon, where people come to the hall, so to
speak by tractor. That was a different story".
It is easy talking for Rieu at this moment, for he is in the position to bring a million costing show, fully paid by himself.
However, he never forgets the time he decided to start his own orchestra.
"I was a violinist in the Limburg Symphony Orchestra. After two weeks I knew
I did not like that job. My colleagues talked about nothing else then the
Union, holidays, the time they could go home. At the end of the concert they
run into the bus, to go home as soon as possible. I wanted something else
and that is what I do now. After the concert we stay and talk. We spend
some time together to relax, we have something to eat and drink. That is
important, that strengthens the bond. I arrange everything. This…, but also
the entire decoration, the light, the sound, the repertoire we are playing. I
notice every detail".
Rieu's triumphal march did not come by itself. With his first orchestra, The Maastricht Salon Orchestra (5 persons),
he rehearsed one year before getting the right sound for performances.
"In that year I wanted to quit about five times. We had endless conversations about what to play… We rehearsed
many days on pieces of which I was sure we would never perform them on stage.
My father in law convinced me to go on. He survived two world wars and lost everything he had. His motto was:
never give up. That is what still is in my mind forever".
André Rieu's motivation can be encouraged by Marjorie's father, but his musical talents must be genetic inherited by
his own father, the conductor. It seems to be that way, but André Rieu firmly says: "I don't owe my musical
education to him. He was a difficult man who hardly paid attention to us. A good musician, oh yes! That was at the
same time the biggest disadvantage for my two brothers, three sisters and I. He was difficult to get on with. Almost
never at home. I try to do better with my family. I cannot do that to them! " Daydreaming..
" Maybe genetic heredity is more important than the bringing up. Of course, I got a lot
from him, but from the musical point of view we are totally different."
The respected but controversial Andries Antoine Rieu was the main conductor of the
Limburg Symphony Orchestra during 31 years.
André says: "I played in his orchestra for one year. That was not an easy period for me.
My father was in conflict with everything and everyone. And then you, his son, is a member
of that orchestra. That hurts"! The passing of father Rieu came just before the big success
of the Second Waltz.
"He attended my concert once. He was not content. My father was the man for Wagner,
very heavy classical music. He watched what I did and he saw my beginning success.
But he did not really approve of it, no".
These were the thoughts, coming into André Rieu's mind, sitting in the bus on the way to the hotel in rainy
Minneapolis. The world is his stage. However, he does not want to perform everywhere,
"It is my conscious choice not to perform in China and Russia. China is still too communistic. And in Russia the
wrong people have too much money".
For Holland he grew too big. That is why he accepts a new challenge. A tour de force in the Amsterdam Arena. The
only place in Holland where he can perform with his new mega show.
"We reproduced the Viennese palace Schönbrunn as a decor. We added two ice rinks, figure skaters, a golden
carriage, ballets and a lot of chandeliers. The world premiere of this mega show and concert will take place in
Toronto, 14th December 2007. I know the acoustics in the Amsterdam Arena are a disaster. That is why my team
will design an enormous canvas to be fixed into the peak of the stadium, in the curve of the roof. That has never
been achieved before, but we think it is THE solution of the sound problem over there. That canvas will stay in
Amsterdam, to be used more often. My son Pierre is responsible for the logistic coordination and production. For
this show the building up job takes five days and the tearing down three days. That is why we'll have less
performances in the future. We'll reduce from 100 concerts a year, to 50 concerts a year.
Andre in Vienna, Austria
Andre in Sydney, Australia
Andre in Cortona, Italy
Andre in NYC, USA
Andre in Aachen, Germany
Andre in Maastricht, the Netherlands
Andre Rieu Sr
Andre in Tokyo, Japan
Andre in Seoul, Korea
Andre in Toronto, Canada