Andre Rieu conquers America
October 7, 1997
This is an older article. At the time I translated it, Andre was pretty much an unknown here in the
States. I think with the help of his fans he has now become much more well known. I could not
be more please that our hard work had paid off.
For weeks number one on the classical hit parade. He did not want to let the cat out of the bag until everything was
completely organized. But now it is a sure thing. André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra are on their way to
A fairy tale seems to become reality for the talented and driven violinist from Maastricht. Just a few years ago he
resigned from his safe job as violinist by the Limburger Symphony Orchestra (where his father was conductor) for the
biggest adventure of his life.
André started his own orchestra, The Johann Strauss Orchestra with his savings. After a few very difficult years and
without a penny of subsidy he shot to the top of our hit parade with his Second-Waltz success. He sold over a
million CDs, sold out venues and halls followed. And now it is the worlds turn. The enormous success in Germany is
now followed by the first tour to Canada and America for André Rieu and his orchestra.
In one month, on November 5, they will start in Quebec, then Rieu will perform in Montreal (Nov. 6), Ottawa (Nov. 8)
and on November 9 and 12 in Boston (November 12 has already sold out), Detroit (Nov 13) and on Nov. 14 the
Kennedy Center in Washington. The tour will conclude with a TV presentation for the Public Broadcasting System in
the Oakdale-theater in Wallingford. André will strike in Canada and in it for every artist magical America. André does
not leave anything to chance with the preparations for this tour. He is a perfectionist in heart and soul.
Yesterday while he was posing for pictures with his crew in the MECC in Maastricht he told me “I now have four sets
of everything”. From the costumes of my orchestra members to our decor and the golden chairs, our sound and light
system and even of the instruments which cannot be transported as hand luggage we have four sets. That is
especially true for the basses, the cellos and the drums. It is an enormous investment, André admits. All together
that costs over 1 1/2 million dollars, but I see this in the long run. If you want to perform in Europe as well as in
America it is nonsense to lose so much time with transporting all the equipment. Now after the tour in America I will
leave two sets behind and then I still have two complete sets for Europe. After the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands
and Luxembourg) and Germany we are also further breaking through. In France we just started an enormous
campaign and they say they are sure that there will be even more CDs sold there than in Germany, where we sold
almost half a million.
So is André building on his ‘world career’ and with that you have to make big investments, he says, and André wants
to have everything, to the smallest details, in order. Recently he bought 40 chandeliers at $3500 each to magically
transform the concert halls into Viennese ballrooms. I believe all that goes with the territory, according André Rieu.
He almost always puts the money he makes back into his orchestra and into the show.
Those first years-when he made the jump from musician in an orchestra to stehgeiger in front of his own orchestra-
he put himself on the last place with his salary. It has always been his philosophy that the show has to be perfect.
He had to buy trucks, instruments, decor, costumes, etc.
This perseverance, this investing in yourself is now paying off. Because there is that American dream, which is
coming true for André. In Canada his name is already a concept. Next month he will play in ice hockey stadiums with
15000 seats. That of course does not all happen by itself, André: I have flown back and forth between America and
Holland at least ten times in the last few months for promotion on TV. I have traveled throughout the country to give
TV-interviews and to hold press-conferences. As a European artist that is the only way to break through in that large
country, but now my CD ‘The Vienna I love’ has been number one on the classical hit parade there for weeks. It
takes a lot of energy; because sometimes I am there one, two days and then when I fly back I often have to give a
concert in Holland, Belgium or Germany that very same evening. To be able to keep up with this hectic schedule Rieu
often uses a private plane.
During this tour in America and Canada he will fly with the whole group in a chartered plane. André Rieu is like
mother Theresa for his orchestra members, who a few years ago together with him took this big step, and often gave
up steady employment to venture out on the limb with him. “All my people travel business class to America,” he says.
And during the European tours, if there is no plane, they travel with a dream bus ($500.000) with their own cook and
catering from concert to concert.
André Rieu may be called the reincarnation or Johann Strauss, he and his musicians remain bona fide Limburgers,
who enjoy life’s bounty and that includes always and everywhere, especially good food.
André’s decision to travel with four sets in probably unique in the international showbiz world. Even Frank Sinatra
and Michael Jackson never thought about that. André:” I see this as a new trend. The world is getting smaller and
smaller and if now because of the success in America suddenly there will be an extra concert planned between for
instance Berlin and Paris I can just fly there with my people without having to spend days with the sending of
instruments and props. That takes, if you really want to be internationally available, too much time. Certainly now I
think we will be performing in America much and much more often. ” You have to look ahead in this profession”
according to André and I think that this is the time to break through everywhere, in Europe and in America. And in
this way we will be able to manage it all.
In the meantime Andre has recorded a beautiful Christmas CD which in Holland will be sold under the name “Stille
Nacht” and in Germany will be “Mein Wiehnachtsfest”. Especially in Germany Andre is a real idol of many women,
and he is followed by persistent fans, they see in him a romantic super hero. In America that will undoubtedly
happen too, because with his special charisma and his long hair he is in this often hard world a symbol of past
romance. For many women he musically has become the knight in shining armor of even better the flying Dutchman.
The Johann Strauss Orchestra in 1994
As you can see many of them that were with the JSO in 1997 are still with Andre. Jet Gelens, Frank Steijns, Lin Jong,
Kremi Mineva, Freya Cremers, Klaartjes Polman, Margriet van Lexmond, Hanneke Roggen Jean Sassen, Roland
Lafosse, Ward Vlasveld, Manoe Konings, Rene Henket, Roger Diederen, Ruud Merx, Teun Rameakers, Marcel Falize
and Mireille Brepols are all listed in the program.
Renate Dirix, Jo Huijts, Monica Das and Marc Doomen are also listed and they left in the last few years.
1997 Excited about the upcoming US and Canada tour.
Yes, that really is Teun in the