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Oct 1, 2014

At Home André Rieu is Just Grandpa


Orchestra leader reveals new album "Love in Venice" in Maastricht to 75 journalists from 12 countries

At Home André is Just Plain Grandpa

André Rieu turns 65 today and it was 20 years ago that he broke through with "The Second Waltz". During an early birthday party for the international press in Maastricht he presented his new album "Love in Venice."

The Limburger/By Peter van de Berg: André Rieu does not have much time to reflect on his birthday today. After a quick toast in his private Maastricht studio with the Johann Strauss orchestra, the entourage departs for Brazil where in Sao Paulo nine concerts are planned. That was different last week when the stand-alone violinist was the focal point of interest during a party in the gardens of his castle "House the little Towers". No less than 75 journalists and camera crews from 12 different countries, even from Argentina, a came to the Netherlands to be present at the presentation of his new album "Love in Venice". And befitting a real world star, Rieu presented the launch of his new album in a grand style.

The Venetian carnival runs rampant within the walls of his domain, located on the eastern side of the St. Pietersberg. Extras in colorful traditional dress and with gleaming masks surround the "Kaiser" of the Waltz. He gives them a few small pointers as to how they have to stand for the photo session by the many photographers who jostle for the best possible picture.

Teun Ramaekers views the scene from a safe distance. "He just can’t leave it alone. Typical André. Always directing a tight ship." He says that with a smile. Flutist Ramaekers (60) from Maastricht has been part of the Johann Strauss Orchestra for 27 years. He has seen Rieu evolve into the most important musical export product of the Netherlands. "We studied together at the conservatory in Liège. I have been with the Johann Strauss Orchestra from the very beginning. André wanted to try something different and expand his Maastricht Salon Orchestra. I had a permanent position as professor on the conservatories in Eindhoven and Liège, which I gave up. André had an unshakable confidence that everything would turn out alright. The beginning was a huge adventure. Look where we are now. I have been extremely lucky." Ramaekers praises Rieu for realizing his dreams. He is really a special case. André has done everything himself and kept it in his own hands. He has never depended on anyone else." Mutual respect is the strength of Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra. "The enthusiasm one sees is not fake. We all profit from the success. That is why we work so darn hard" says Ramaekers.


Hence the reasons why the entire orchestra members are present in the castle garden of their patron. Earlier that day they gave a preview of the new album in the studio, which incidentally will be released to the market on October 31st. Romantic melodies like "Azzuro" and "La Gondola". Rieu revealed some secrets of the costs of recording the CD and DVD, and afterwards the group departed in the luxurious orchestra busses for the ride to the orchestra leader’s residence.

"It is the first time that we address the introduction of a new album in Maastricht this way. Actually quite special," says son Pierre. "But at home André is just plain "Opa" (Grandpa) to his grandchildren. We do not emphasize the fact that he is famous." His fans do that. For the past twenty years, Rieu has performed almost everywhere. Last year he was in Turkey for the first time. This year in November there are two performances programmed. Hence the presence of a Turkish journalist from the paper "Hurriyet", along with promoter Slim Sefada". In 2013, ten thousand tickets were sold in no time at all. That is why we are doing an extra concert this year. Classical music is trendy in Turkey. Rieu is even loved in the Islamic culture. I think that music transcends every religion. He could therefore very well perform in Dubai or Abu Dhabi."

Back to the castle garden. Meanwhile, he is steadily working the interviews with the international television teams. In the reception room of the castle the representatives of the press await their turn. Rieu knows that he owes everything to "the Second Waltz". "For years I had to peddle my music in Hilversum, no one wanted me. I picked up an album and heard "The Second Waltz." I added that one quickly to an album. If I had not done that, it would have turned out quite differently." Twenty years later, the record company "Universal" is very happy with the violinist. "It is not going to well with the companies, but I still have a contract with them, since my public still buys CD’s. They want to get their hands on a real CD."

Since André has turned 65 and is eligible for AOW (Old age Pension) that does not mean he is going to slow down. "My health is excellent. I changed my lifestyle. I do weightlifting, which helps me to stay fit. I divide my energy better. Normally I used to do all the promotion myself in all the countries. Now I bring everyone to Maastricht for a day. Moreover, I do not mind having the state pension benefits. Finally I no longer have to worry about money."
Thanks to John for this and the Translation

Sep 30, 2014

Happy 65th Birthday André!!

20 Years of Success Thanks To The Second Waltz
October 1, 2014-The Limburger: Today André Rieu celebrates his 65th birthday and 20 years ago he broke through internationally with "The Second Waltz." Reason enough for a party in the gardens of his castle "House the Turrets". Not only  a reason to look back at the success of the orchestra leader of the Johann Strauss Orchestra, but primarily a moment to reflect on the new album "Love in Venice."  For that 75 journalists and camera crews came from 12 different countries.

Sep 29, 2014

André Rieu sends his congratulations to George Clooney and his wife Amal who got married in Venice. 
He dedicates the title song of his new CD 'Love in Venice' to the newly weds. Click HERE To Watch

André Rieu "Money is not my motivation"

Waltz king André Rieu
 "Money is not my motivation"

Maastricht/Vienna (APA) - André Rieu is somewhat like the Woody Allen of Classical Business: Tirelessly the soon to be the 65-year-old publishes one CD after another and is just under a third of the year on tour with his Johann Strauss Orchestra. The latest album called "Love in Venice" will be released on October 31. And whoever would like to experience the waltz king in person has the chance on January 17th in Salzburg, Austria.

For this CD Rieu typically combines the genre of the great Italian hits of "O sole mio", "Volare" and "Azzurro", and arranges them just like the classics of the "Barcarole" by Offenbach. And of course Johann Strauss is also on board the musical gondola with the lagoon waltz. And finally this time Rieu recorded three of his own original compositions - "Love in Venice", "La Gondola" and "Bella Tarantella".

Shortly before his 65th birthday which will be on Wednesday (October 1) the chart favorite and for this special occasion gave an interview in his castle in Maastricht to Dutch journalist about the idea of retiring, the expressions and ideas of his orchestra musicians and his feeling when he plays "The Blue Danube Waltz" for the 3,000th time.

Question: From where does your style of romance come from? 
Rieu: I am often asked whether I would like to have lived in the time of Johann Strauss or in Vivaldi's time in Venice. The answer is no. I like to combine the romance of that time with todays. I'm totally crazy about iPhones and apps.

Question: What exactly is the secret of the typical Rieu sounds? 
Rieu: there are no tricks to that; my heart just tells me how to play those pieces. If Strauss would hear me somewhere on a cloud, I hope he is happy. When I'm on stage I try to interpret the music in all honesty. And thank God the works of Strauss are so awesome. At about every concert I play the "Blue Danube Waltz" - 100 times per year and have been doing so for 30 years. But it never bores me, because it's such a gorgeous piece.

Question: Given that your 65th birthday is forthcoming and to retire right now for you is not an issue? 
Rieu: I could not possibly imagine that! One only retires when one works. I do not work – I have fun. Of course sometimes it is exhausting, but when I'm with my orchestra, gives me incredible energy. It's like people who run a mom-and-pop store. They do not retire either, but go on and on. Okay - I have 100 people in my employ, which is more than at a Mom and Pop store of course. But this is my life. And when I no longer can go on, I will not go on any more- but it is not that close yet.

Question: In addition to so many mature fans you also have numerous young followers. How do you explain that? 
Rieu: This is, I think, because my music still has so much feeling. And children do not think, they feel. There still is a violin boom in all the music schools in Holland – of which I'm very proud.

Question: You are known at your concerts for the effects, the costumes and all the pomp. Was that concept one of your own ideas? 
Rieu: I developed that myself. I find classical orchestras sometimes to be a bit boring. When I sat there for the first time as a violinist, I immediately thought: here I do not want to become old and developed my own ideas for my own orchestra. Why are the beautiful ladies always dressed up in black and have a face as if they are dead already?! Why not bring a little happiness into your life? Because that is not only true in music. With more laughter in life there would be less war. The world is much too serious. I really mean that. I do not want to bring an even closer understanding of the classics to the great mass - that is not my message. I just want to make music my way and be happy on stage. That is what I like to radiate.

Question: How costly will the new tour be for the album "A Night in Venice"? 
Rieu: You know I once had Schönbrunn Palace copied and then I was broke. I was 34 million Euros in debt. But the bank let me go on, and the following year we had recovered our debt. But I promised my wife not to do something like that ever again. The current tour is now taking place with the full orchestra, choir, soloists, large LED screen and beautiful scenery. We play the most beautiful Italian melodies, but also have the Berlin Comedian Harmonists with us this time; we play many waltzes and melodies from opera, operetta, musicals and film. I do not build castles any more.

Question: For the last five years now, you have been dealing very proactive with your financial problems. Where does this frankness come from? 
Rieu: Why should I hide it? It is a part of life, and I do not see this as a failure. When you have a dream, you must follow it. And I'm not doing this for the money. Money is not what drives me; otherwise I would be selling oil pipelines, would be unknown, but much richer.

Question: You travel with your tours around the globe, but still live in your home town of Maastricht. From where do these home ties come from? 
Rieu: Maastricht is a beautiful city, and we have everything here. Here I can compose in peace. On the new album there are three of my compositions, which are all dedicated to Venice, including a tarantella. When my four year old granddaughter heard them for the first time, she shouted: "Pizza!!!" She immediately thought of Italy, which I thought to be a nice compliment. And my studio is located only a few minutes from my castle, which is a big advantage. As a child I always thought how fantastic it would be to have a castle - and here as a five year old, I received piano lessons. And then many years later when on a walk with my wife I said: "That castle I would like to have." She just answered: "But you still have to sell a couple more records." And that is what I did.


Thanks to John for the ©Translation 

Sep 27, 2014

Mirusia, the muse of André Rieu

Australian soprano experiencing nationwide premiere of her second solo show in Maastricht
"My Favorite Things"

Mirusia, the muse of André Rieu

The Limburger - Sept. 26: Mirusia Louwerse is on her own now. Tomorrow evening in the Theater on the Vrijthof will be her second nationwide premiere of her solo show "My Favorite Things". My career is like a fairy tale".

By Peter van de Berg: Eventually a day will come when André Rieu and his violin will be the special guest in her program. At least in Mirusia Louwerse’s dreams. It is a fervent wish of the Australian soprano who has Dutch roots. "I would really truly love to see that", she says with a smile. "André means so much to me. He is my mentor, a father figure. I always call him "Uncle André" and I am very thankful to him. He often gives me advice. When I am on stage with him, I am never nervous. Then I know everything is going to be alright."

Rieu’s muse, as she is described on billboards, does not hide the fact of her admiration for the orchestra leader. From 2007 until 2012 she toured with Rieu and his Johann Strauss orchestra all over the world. Currently Mirusia Louwerse (29) performs on her own and is no longer present at every Rieu concert. She again resides in Australia, where she is a world star, but also maintains a residence in Maastricht, where tomorrow the second national premiere of her solo show "My Favorite Things" will take place. "I enjoy coming to Maastricht. I can easily walk along and shop here without being pestered. I like that. I totally feel at home here."

Mirusia’s parents immigrated in 1980 to Brisbane. She was born in Australia and followed courses in classical singing at the Brisbane Conservatory. Through her Aunt Els from Vlissingen, the city where the family Louwerse originally hailed from, she became part of André Rieu’s organization. "My aunt had heard that André was looking for a soloist so she sent him an e-mail with my website. One day later in Australia, our phone rang; André Rieu wanted to speak with me. It was a complete surprise as I did not know anything about my aunt’s actions. Could I come to Maastricht? Which of course I did. We immediately clicked. A week later I returned to Australia with a Rieu contract in my pocket."

Mirusia Louwerse told me the story with sparkling eyes and an English accent. Even though she grew up "Down Under", she speaks very good Dutch. "My entire life I have been surrounded by people who speak Dutch. I learned English through music. As a toddler I came in contact with Australian children’s songs." Since her first performance with the world famous violinist’s orchestra, she speaks to the imagination of the fans. Mirusia Louwerse was immediately christened as "Rieu’s Angel." Her version of "Ave Maria" during the 2008 Vrijthof concerts has been viewed more than five million times on YouTube. She is quite impressed. "It seems like a fairy tale. I could never have dreamed that when I started singing - It is wonderful."

Her singing career started during her fourteenth year with country songs. They formed the basis for her current existence as a classical songstress. "I want to touch people with my songs, that is my goal. Talent shows have taught me how to stand on stage. My parents never forced me to choose music, I wanted that. I can still remember how often my Mom would have to call me for dinner when I was in my bedroom rehearsing songs."

British songstress Sarah Brightman is an inspiration. She combines pop songs tinged with operatic arias. Popera as Mirusia likes to call that. "Admittedly I am a soprano, but I do not like to sing opera pieces the entire evening. I find that boring. My show will have some pop music in its musical repertoire, a nice variation. I composed one song myself called "Journey", that is about sailing. On the water you are free. You can sing as loud as you like. Anyway, I love sailing, and in Brisbane I can do that to my heart’s content.Totally being yourself."

The youngest winner of the prestigious Dame Joan Sutherland Award (2006) will perform her second solo show accompanied by an orchestra and an Australian choir. "I am looking forward to the premiere. It is going to be a wonderful evening and I am very proud that I have been afforded this opportunity."

Translation by John

International Journalists Gather At Rieu's Castle

André Rieu's Venetian CD
The Limburger Sept. 26: It was a party with a Venetian  flair - the presentation of André Rieu's new CD. Roughly seventy journalists and camera teams from twelve different countries were present yesterday the entire day at his private studio, castle and in the garden of the famous orchestra leader, where "Love in Venice" was christened. The CD will be released at the end of October. In Wednesday's paper, the day that the Maastricht violinist will celebrate his 65th birthday, a  nice report of the gathering at André Rieu's.
(Thanks to John for the Translation)

Sep 19, 2014

Click HERE To Read a Nice Interview With Mirusia!
"I was launched from graduating at the Conservatorium 
to working on the world stage with a mega star. 
André became my mentor".

Sep 17, 2014

Two More Early André Rieu Fan Stories

Early André Fans
John and Bobbie - California USA

From John and Bobbie: Our first introduction to André Rieu was in early 1996 when we received André’s CD "André Rieu Live" from John’s cousin in the Netherlands. Shortly after receiving that first CD, we were channel surfing one evening and saw a PBS special featuring André and the JSO. We found his music to be very enjoyable and entertaining, and have been hooked from that time on. Since John, at that time was working in Las Vegas and only commuted home on weekends, he again found André on PBS there one evening, and only to find out that the previous weekend when John was home, André and the JSO had performed in Concord, California, not too far from where we still live. Had we known in advance, we could have made arrangement to attend his concert, but alas, it apparently was not in the cards. He also found out that André and the JSO had performed in the Los Angeles area a week or so earlier. One of John’s roommates, who travelled to Los Angeles on his days off, had brought in a full page add from a local Los Angeles newspaper.

Our first live André Rieu concert was in 2002 accompanied by John’s cousins who then lived in Columbus Ohio. What a wonderful experience. That was the concert where Suzan made her first solo appearance. (See Sonja’s story) We had chatted with some of the JSO members and other crewmembers after the concert but did not meet André until a few years later. Although we were at the same concert, we did not know Sonja at that time, but made contact with her shortly afterwards when we had returned back to Nebraska where we were living at that time due to John’s job. Our next concert was two years later, 2004, in Indianapolis with friends from a little place just outside Cincinnati, and that too was another great experience. There we finally met Sonja, Sigrun from Germany, and Kirsten, André’s spokesperson. After the concert, we finally did meet André for a real short time, long enough for an autograph, and chatted with some of the JSO members, who all were very friendly and cordial. In between live concerts we have enjoyed many André Rieu PBS specials on TV.

2005 was a busy concert year for us, when we attended three concerts. Our first concert that year was in Cincinnati, Ohio, which was marvelous. André put on a great performance and managed to have great audience participation. The day after the Cincinnati concert, we attended what we would consider the "Very first André fans picnic", organized by Sonja, in a park just outside her home. It was great meeting fans from previous concerts and new fans and enjoying their experiences. July brought us to the Netherlands for our second concert and the very first André concert on the Vrijthof. With John’s sister we attended the very first fan’s dinner and the fan’s picnic in the Maastricht City Park. We enjoyed a wonderful weekend in Maastricht. André out did himself. His Maastricht concerts were and still are unbelievable; a very memorable experience that will not be soon forgotten. Our third concert was closer to home in Fresno, when André toured the Western United States, and was attended with family and friends.

Our next André meeting was totally unexpected and unplanned. André was again touring the Western US, and performing this time in San José California. Since we had established a friendship with Sigrun from Germany, she was to spend some time with us, but before she would be coming to us, she was staying with friends in the San José area and would also be attending André’s concert. She was to ride back with us to our home after the concert. While discussing a place to meet, since we had not purchased tickets for André’s concert, we decided to attend, so a frantic search for tickets was started. Only to be told that the entire venue was sold out. Every seat had been bought by PBS supporters. Somehow we managed a couple of tickets through the internet and enjoyed, although a little from afar, (we were sitting almost in the rafters) a wonderful concert. We were to meet Sigrun at the North entrance of the arena after the concert, and on our way out happened to see Dan "the Banner Man" and his wife Alice in the center of the Arena. Having met them previously in Maastricht we thought it would be nice to say "hallo" so down we went to meet with them. While chatting, someone, we assume from the TV station came by and ushered us all into a room for the "Meet and Greet". (A program established by PBS whereby fans could meet and chat with André for a nominal pledge/fee of course). 

While chatting with Kirsten, she excused herself and announced that André was on his way in. Imagine our surprise when André and several photographers walked in and he came straight towards us saying: "I want a picture with these folks". You could have blown us over with a feather. Next thing we knew there were cameras in our faces, and we wondered: "What had just happened?" Sorry to say the pictures were never posted on André’s site, but he still does whenever he and the JSO are on tour. It was an experience we still to this day talk about. We did feel a little out of place at that "Meet and Greet" and therefore made an early and hastily departure to catch up with Sigrun who was wondering what had happened to us and where in the world did we run off to.

2007 was another great year for André concerts. There were the Vrijthof concerts, the "Fairytale" concert in the Efteling in the Netherlands as well as André’s premier "Schönbrunn" Castle concert in Toronto. Also a concert never to be forgotten and a place where we had lots of fun with the JSO members as well as other fans 

In the past almost eighteen years we attended many concerts, including all the Vrijthof concerts so far every year. In 2007 John was asked to work with Sue on the Harmony Parlor, which he gladly accepted and has been busy with that ever since. In addition he also helps Ruud and Ineke with their translations on the André Rieu Movies site on a regular basis, and has assisted Sonja with her "Translations site" prior to 2007. It is through André’s music, that we have met some very nice people who have the same love for his music as we do, and many friendships have flourished and are ongoing. During our travels chasing André around the world, e.g. Australia, Canada and a couple of European countries, we have accumulated a few "High Fives" from him and amassed a nice collection of his CD’s and DVD’s which we play and/or watch frequently. John and Bobbie


Alice Leung Hails from Hong Kong 
Now lives in Vancouver, Canada


From Alice: The year was 1985 when Andre’s music first invaded our house in Hong Kong. My brother went to a "Hi-Fi" store and the sales guy told him about this nice black vinyl which he just got in, very nice music, and from then on, it was my family’s most favorite album. It was the "Serenata" of Andre Rieu and the Maastricht Salon Orchestra, but we‘ve always called it "The Little Bird" album. We also bought the CD to be able to play it everywhere, including our car, we recorded it on a cassette tape as well. The first factory-installed in-dash CD player was introduced in 1985, we did not own a car with that luxury back then, but we had a house in the suburbs and my brother would always turn the volume nice and loud, so the little bird’s singing kind of blended with the trees and flowers in our garden. My father took some "audioless 8mm home movies" before I was born, so when we played the movie I always played the Serenata to go with it. We had records of Paul Mauriat, Mantovani, Percy Faith etc. etc. but only the Little Bird’s music would give that special touch to our home movies. I have photographic memories seeing my grandmother in the black and white movie with Gold and Silver as background music, and my eldest brother playing happily with some battery-operated chicken when he was a kid with Bummelpetrus in the background. He’s now 60. 

My grandmother passed away before we immigrated to Canada, we couldn’t bring her along, but we brought the Little Bird to Vancouver in 1990. With digital technology I brought our 8mm tapes to a professional shop to have the movies converted to DVDs. The guy told me he could add music to it, I thought "Oh! Nice!", but the music he had on the DVD was just not right, it totally spoiled the mood when watching our precious memories, so, I have the DVD "mute" , play our lovely Little Bird and we’re all good again. Although we had our first CD (black vinyl record) of Andre as early as 1985, the most precious one in our family, we didn't even know what he looked like until much later...what a waste of my life!! Interesting, wasn't it? Maastricht...which sounded like a complete stranger to us... was already in Hong Kong... long long ago!! Who would have known, including Andre himself, that he'd be soooo popular now, that people from around the world visit Maastricht because of HIM!


Several years went by. Suddenly, one evening in Sep 2006 my father was watching TV, flipping channels and there was some very nice music but it wasn't until I heard Toselli’s Serenade that I ran out from my bedroom and asked "Who’s playing?" My goodness!! The charming violinist, gorgeous cellist (Tanja), and the whole beautiful orchestra! A scene which didn’t seem to belong to the real world. Instantly I googled Andre Rieu, bought our first Vancouver concert tickets in 2006, ordered my Homecoming DVD (the first Maastricht concert 2005), googled this, googled that, totally obsessed, got my personalized license plate A RIEU in 2007, and ordered more items from Andre’s web boutique, including My Music, My Life, written by Marjorie. I got chills and almost a heart attack as I was reading the book, I looked at the back cover of our Serenata (The Little Bird) and it says "Andre Rieu & the Maastricht Salon Orchestra"….WHAT??? Didn’t know we had HIM all along!! While my brother might have known and remembered the name on the CD, I wasn’t familiar with conductors’ name, and Maastricht??? Not even English… never heard of it… Music this good we just didn’t even think the musicians were still alive.

As I was reading the book further, I literally cried when I read about the difficult times that Andre and Marjorie had to overcome in the early years, and how the Serenata became a huge success was especially touching, I felt the Rieu family was like our long-lost friend…or no, they’re more like a family….except they don’t know us. Imagine Marc and Pierre were just a few years old when we played his dad’s music! And now the boys are all grown up and so talented!

As soon as I started my Google, I found so much info in Sonja’s translations website, I read the inspired fans stories, and was amazed in the tremendous effort put in to help promote Andre in the States, how they wanted him to come back every year….As for me, having missed so many years of watching Andre’s beautiful concerts, I had a lot to catch up…spent most of my spare savings on Andre’s DVDs, fans products, and a few trips to see Andre out-of-town, something we had never done before in our whole lives, and of course kept myself busy checking out more info in Sonja’s website and Ineke’s movies website. Since 2008 I created my first paper flags for the Maastricht fan dinners and in 2009 our entire family (my parents and my sister and brother in law from Hong Kong) traveled to Maastricht to attend the hometown concerts and fan events. If you like to watch our fun video, click HERE

Sep 10, 2014

Rieu Gives Violin Lessons To a Sprookjesboom Cast Member

Rieu to Give Violin Lessons To a Sprookjesboom Cast Member
 (Fairy tale tree) 

September 2, 2014: This morning, Andre Rieu received a real very special guest in his music studio. He provided a private violin workshop for Wolf who will start playing the violin on 27 September 2014 in the new Sprookjesboom (Fairytale tree) musical. The premiere is getting closer so a violin lesson from a professional came in handy. "I really never give violin lessons, but Wolf had asked me so sweetly that I gave in just for once." And I must say: "He has a lot of talent! If he really practices a lot, he'll become a very famous violinist," according to Rieu.
Thanks to John for the Translation

Sep 9, 2014

Our Earliest André Rieu Fans - Part ll

Ruud and Ineke
From Holland

Since her earliest days she has been familiar with the German and Austrian operatic music because her mother was often singing operatic arias while doing the dishes. And she and Ruud have known André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra since the beginning (1990).

From Ineke: Ruud and I attended a concert in the 90's in a small theater in the Netherlands. At that time André performed mainly in Holland, Belgium, France and Germany. After his big breakthrough in the Netherlands in 1995 (soccer match Ajax (Holland) – Bayern- Munich (Germany)) the floodgates opened. I remember that we attended a concert in which Suzan Erens was the soloist for the first time - but I cannot remember which year that was.

André performed abroad very often (he was even more famous in Germany and Belgium than in the Netherlands) and suddenly we were aware that he had returned to the Netherlands in 2004 with a big show in the Roda Stadium in Kerkrade (DVD The Flying Dutchman). That signaled the moment for us to buy tickets again. There we met our first fan friends in person: Gemma and Nand from Belgium and a couple of Dutch fans. Because Facebook did not yet exist, the fans found each other through Sonja's guest book and website. We were slow starters. We had not been alert enough to buy tickets in time, so we were on the field far from the stage, but we could follow the concert on the big screens and the show was breathtaking. It was freezing cold but I'll never forget that concert!

Approaching the stadium I remember that we saw horse trailers outside on the parking lot and we wondered: ‘What is going to happen here?’ Before the concert started, a soccer player walked onto the stage and asked the audience: "What are you doing here? I'd like to do my training exercises." Well, that was not possible of course and then he said: "Well since I am here now, I'll teach you the "wave" as we do in soccer stadiums." It was very entertaining. We did not know yet that we had to use the wave techniques in the concert!! (Snow Waltz). André played for 4 hours, including his American tour repertoire with a country medley. Little Akim was there, white doves, the gurgling, the horses, Irish John Sheahan, German Otto Waalkes, Marcel Falize and his three young sons ... We had so much fun. We saw people happily waltzing in the smelly puddles and droppings which the horses had left behind! So please don't complain if you get wet during a concert, or covered with fake snow, confetti or whatever, because it could be worse!! We’d never laughed so much and had never experienced such a concert before! It blew us away. So special, we had the time of our lives. We were hooked and fans forever.

Gerd Leers, mayor of Maastricht was in the audience and he said to André: "You cannot perform in Kerkrade (a rival Limburg city) and not in Maastricht, because you are a Maastricht resident and Maastricht also has a soccer stadium...." Yes..... but that is not what André had in mind.... And if André has something in mind......pfooooh.... It had to be the Vrijthof in the center of the city!! To make a long story short: The next year the concert was in Maastricht on the Vrijthof square ...

Later on we noticed that we had missed Cortona in 2003, and that is what we regret most. Of course, we attended the first Maastricht concerts the following year and all those that followed during the next 9 years. It has become our primary hobby and holiday destination: By 2014 it has grown to include a fan website, three weeks in Maastricht, 8 concerts, thousands of international fan friends, fan dinners, fan picnics, fan events. It is amazing!


We have attended countless concerts with fan friends all over the world: in several European countries, Canada, USA and Australia. Also, of course, the "Specials" in Toronto, Heidelberg, Mainau and Vienna, which were unforgettable.

And ... most importantly: since we were not "real" classical music lovers, we learned a lot about classical music! André taught us the meaning of several arias from operettas, names of composers, and so on.

By 2007 Sonja had become too busy to continue with her translations website. We discussed it in Maastricht where we all met each other. There the idea was born that Sonja would keep the Translations website dormant to save all the information (www.andrerieutranslations.com), while Sue Berry and John de Jong would continue Sonja's guest book and start the blog ‘Harmony Parlor’ (which developed into an entire website by itself). When Facebook became popular, Sue created the Harmony Parlor group on Facebook in 2010, which currently boasts over 4000 members and the lively discussions moved from the website guest books to Facebook.

Ruud and I started the Movies fan website in 2007 with the idea of posting mainly video clips, TV programs and interviews. In the meantime we have posted over 500 videos on our movies website. To this very day, the movies website (from Holland) and the Harmony Parlor (from California, USA) still work happily together. Sonja and John who were born in the Netherlands and Entia from South Africa assist us with English translations, so we are a great team. Read the "History of the fan websites" on http://www.andrerieumovies.com/Historyfanwebsites.html


Ruud and I have never been to Meet and Greets, nor did we purchase expensive travel packages and we have never met André in person. We are proud of the few high-fives which we have received in the aisles and my first photo with André was a coincidence in the CinemaLive broadcast of Maastricht 2012 in Heerlen. We went to Heerlen with a few Dutch fan friends, for a weekend in Christmas atmosphere and we were about to leave the cinema after the movie had finished. Then... André came downstairs – there were not many people around – and we asked for a picture with him. Johan, his body guard, took the picture. So this is my one and only trophy with André and I am very proud of it! We did not exchange two words and I don't know whether André knows me, but I am especially happy with this photo because it was a spontaneous picture and not a forced and expensive "Meet and Greet" photo  ... Ineke



Han Scheuerman
Florist who Resides in Maastricht

From Han: Thirty years have passed since André gave his first concerts in the Staar gebouw (building where the male choir "Maastrichter Staar" is rehearsing) in Maastricht during the Hieringebiete (annual carnival). By that time we had already had our flower shop in the suburb of St. Peter for many years. The bouquets that were offered after André Rieu's performances were ordered from us. Towards the end of the concerts we would be in the wings with the flowers ready.

At that stage there was always a very pleasant atmosphere - not only in the hall, but also amongst the musicians. That became the basis for a healthy interest in the Rieu phenomenon! It has been quite fascinating to watch from such close quarters how André and the JSO conquered the world - from so small to so huge. 

From a business point of view we have always been involved with the Rieu Company. Particularly since the family moved to our suburb, St. Peter. We were familiar with the interior of their house as before them the house was inhabited by Jesuits. And because we used to decorate the crucifix at the corner of their house with a floral garland on Good Friday, we were invariably invited for coffee with an Easter egg.

The tradition of the garland of flowers still exists! Because we live in the same neighborhood we have regularly shared activities with Rieu; for instance, the Orchestra rehearsed in the gym across from our business. I often slipped inside to quietly enjoy the music in the corridor. The beautiful sounds often drove me to tears, with no one around me. But they were still a long way from the great success they are today.

To this day, I follow all their activities, including all interviews recorded around the world. I feel privileged to have been invited – along with my grandson Jamie – to the Castle for the recording of André’s Christmas special as a result of this connection. In those 5 days I experienced how closely the family worked together on this huge undertaking - Marjorie and Pierre have also left their mark on it. It was conceived, directed and edited frame by frame until it was merged into the sublime result, frame by frame. Only the best is acceptable.

(translation by Entia)

Sep 3, 2014

André Rieu Fans Before The Year 2000

Our Earliest André Rieu Fans

Who are the fans that have known André the longest??? That's what Ineke wondered on a rainy day in August 2014. We know all about André, but what do we know about the earliest fans (before the year 2000) who are still fans today (almost 20 years later!)? A continuing story - Each week we will feature a new fan. Here is Part 1: Sonja Harper and Ruth Morgan.

SONJA HARPER is from Dutch origin who lives in Ohio (USA) and has been a fan since 1995. In 2002 she started her own André Rieu Fan Website in the US (which we all know now as "Translations").

From Sonja: In April 1995, I was in Holland on vacation and my Dad and I were watching the semifinal of the UEFA Cup soccer. Dad has always been a sports fanatic. When I was young, we always watched soccer and speed skating together and went to the games and events. The semifinal was between the Ajax from Amsterdam; and the Bayern Munich from Munich, Germany. The first game of the semifinal was played in Munich and ended in 0-0. The second game was played in the Ajax stadium in Amsterdam and it was an extremely exciting game ... before half time Holland was ahead 3 to 1. So the fans were already going crazy.

Then half time started and on walked this man with long hair and a violin. What in the world was that - during such an important and exciting game they had a violinist? And then he started to play! It did not take long before all those soccer fans were singing and swaying along - Dutch and German alike. I believe there were 65,000 soccer fans singing, swaying and waving flags to Andre's Second Waltz. I was sold and Dad loved it too. At home, we too were singing ............. Ajax won the game 5 to 2 and André scored a major hit with that performance. Holland was Waltzing! André became the Waltz King. Of course I had to go back to the USA, but after that experience, whenever I was in Holland I would hunt for his CDs and videos.
  
In 1996, André was on PBS (American television) for the first time with 'From Holland with Love". And in 1997 he did his first US Tour. On November 10, 1997 he came to Ohio (the state where I live) and played at the Battelle Hall at the Columbus Convention Center. I went with a group of Dutch friends and we had a blast. My first concert was Columbus 1997, but the first time I actually talked to André was again in Columbus, but in 2002. That conversation with him is what made me start my Website.

F
or the promotion of the 1997 concert tour, PBS showed a video clip of André playing the Second Waltz in Amsterdam and Kinderdijk (the 19 windmills area). The whole video was so wonderful, that it made me homesick. I decided that I would love to have that video tape, so I called PBS to see if there would be any reruns so I could tape it. I was told it was a onetime commercial for André and they could not play it again. I really wanted that clip badly. So I kept looking for it on the Internet. 

Finally I located the people who made the video for André. I figured I can ask - so I called the company and spoke to a very nice lady. I explained to her what I wanted and she said she would be happy to send me a copy. It was of course in PAL, but I have a special video player which does play PAL. A week later it was in the mail with a very nice note. It is still one of my favorite videos from Andre. She also told me that the video had been planned for a while and finally they had set a date. but suddenly the weather changed and it was going to warm up a lot and they had to get it done in a real hurry. Everyone had to drop everything they had planned and film it in that day, because the following day the ice would not be thick enough anymore.



RUTH MORGAN: At the time Ruth and her husband Jim discovered André Rieu, they lived in Buffalo, New York. (They now live near Lake Tahoe, Nevada) Ruth scored the first photo with André ever, from 1997!! This is her story and the earliest photos ...

From Ruth: I have been a fan since February 1997, when I first saw Andre on my PBS channel in Buffalo, New York. In August 1997 André came to my Buffalo PBS Station where Jim and I volunteered to take pledges. André played “Meditation” while he was standing right in front of me. I recorded the program while I was in the studio on my VCR and have made a DVD from the video tape of him there. That's when Jim took the photo of me with André and of course I was very excited to meet André in person. (André was then 47 years of age).

My first concert was in Toronto's, Maple Leaf  Hockey Stadium and my second concert was at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Both concerts were in November of 1997. Since then I have been to about 85 André Rieu concerts in many countries including the USA, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Australia. The photo of Jim and I with André was taken at a "Meet and Greet Dinner" in a Toronto restaurant before my first concert in Toronto. We are still fans in 2014 and we have traveled already 11 times in a row to Maastricht to visit friends and attend the hometown concerts there.


(We Will Feature Another Fan Next Week!)

Aug 18, 2014

Mirusia Louwerse Announces Engagement! (Private Interview)

August 16, 2014: Mirusia in an interview she gave to Ineke exclusively for the Movies website and the Harmony Parlor. Thank you Mirusia, we feel very honored!!

How long have you known Youri?
I have known Youri for years since he works within the André Rieu organization, but it wasn’t until the King’s Coronation in Amsterdam when we saw one another again (after I had been living in Australia again for a year) that we really fell in love! We met in Mexico City and always had a good laugh with one another. He is such a funny guy and always knows how to make me laugh by doing something goofy.


When did you feel that he would be the one for you? 
After the King’s Coronation we stayed in touch and then after the Vrijthof concerts last year we started dating officially.


Is it the Youri we all know by face? The man from André's security team?
I hope you understand that I cannot talk about that, nor mention his last name, because Youri's contract does not allow me to.

How did Youri pop up the question?
He organized an incredibly romantic dinner. Suddenly after the main course, Giedrė and Agnes walked in playing their violins (I had no idea what they were doing there and was completely stunned) to the tune that Youri always sings for me. I recognized it almost

immediately and started laughing and crying at the same time. Then Marcel and Bob from the male choir walked in and started singing the lyrics that Youri had written for me. Then he got down on one knee and proposed to me and of course I said "YES!" He gave me a beautiful diamond ring. It was a very special moment shared with our close friends.

Which nationality is Youri?
Youri and I have exactly the same heritage: we are both 3/4 Dutch and 1/4 Polish . Except I was born in Australia and he was born in Holland!

Are you going to live in Maastricht together?
We are going to be moving to Maastricht together in September and we are very much looking forward to that.

(Newspaper Announcement Clipping is from Courier Mail Australia)

Jul 29, 2014

André Rieu in his "Hometown"

André Rieu in his "Hometown"

Chapeau Magazine by Ingrid Beckers - July 2014: This summer, André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra will play for the 10th consecutive year on the Vrijthof in Maastricht. Over a three weekend period, eight concerts will be presented, attended by an estimated 80,000 visitors. Estimates have it that more than half of the visitors are from outside the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg) from more than eighty different countries. André Rieu has become a WORLDTRADE MARK, and his fans from all over, from Brazil to Australia, all come to see him perform, if only once, in this "Hometown". For Maastricht and the surrounding areas, it has an enormous economic impact. The hotels, restaurants and stores are doing as well in business as during the top art fair of TEFAF. Rieu is worth his weight in gold for the economics of his city.


Lights out - Spots on!!!!!!!
The André Rieu family

André Rieu and his colorful Johann Strauss Orchestra have been one big happy family for many years. This summer, they will once again be making a lot of music in their hometown. Lights out, spots on! Chapeau features 6 prominent musicians behind the world’s only real "King of Waltz. “Our lives revolve completely around André.”

“The cheerful atmosphere doesn’t cost me anything”
TEUN RAMAEKERS (59) Maastricht
Flutist, Johann Strauss Orchestra, since 1988

Flutist, Johann Strauss Orchestra since 1988: "Since the very beginning, I’ve felt at home with Rieu (like a fish in the water.) I'm not a classical musician per se and love to mix different types of music. I still hear people saying about André: ‘Whatever you do, you will never succeed.’ Consequently, it is marvelous to share his success all over the world. The public’s enthusiasm, their swaying, laughing, it's all part of it. The cheerful atmosphere arises spontaneously and doesn’t cost me anything. I have the most fun when I notice at a concert how grumpy men, dragged there by their wives, relax completely during the course of the evening. The concerts on the Vrijthof are always a feast – a party from the very first minute. Yes, for me, Maastricht with the whole atmosphere, the cafes’ verandas (terraces) around the square, is the highlight of the year. It is not for nothing that fans from around the world come here to attend André’s concerts in his hometown".

"The Schintaler is recreational to me"
ROGER DIEDEREN (44), PUTH
First trumpeter, Johann Strauss Orchestra, since 1992

"I did a lot of nice things with André and I’ve seen the world. However, I experienced my finest moment with Rieu here in Maastricht. My 13-year-old son, Romano, is a talented trumpet player. Last year André involved him in our concerts on the Vrijthof. We were introduced as father and son and performed two solos together. Romano found it very exciting, everything went well. I was so proud! Later my son joined the Orchestra on a trip to Mexico for a private concert between genuine Mayan pyramids. Quite an experience for a young boy. In our region I have been playing in De Schintaler. This polka band disbanded in 2010, but regrouped again in 2013 and gives a few concerts a year. Often it is quite difficult to manage to perform at all the concerts. André grants me the freedom to do so, since De Schintaler provides a recreational outlet for me; pure relaxation on a high level."

All over the world with Maastricht's Carillon”
FRANK STEIJNS (43) MAASTRICHT
Violinist, Johann Strauss Orchestra since 1994

Apart from being a violinist at André Rieu’s, I am also the city carillon player of Maastricht. The weekends when I’m home, I play the city’s historic bells (carillon) in the tower of the town hall on Saturday. It is two very different worlds, but I, as a classical musician, cannot do without either one. André has brought those worlds together in a way that only he can. During the Vrijthof concerts in 2005, I played with the orchestra on the carillon of the St. Servaas Church. The public’s response was so enthusiastic that André decided to have a mobile set of bells (carillon) constructed that we could take along on tours. I have played the emotional Concert d’Aranguez on that small carillon in 120 cities across the world; from Los Angeles to Vancouver. Since then I have become better known as a bell ringer in Shanghai than here in Maastricht, ha-ha. The way in which André promotes Limburg all over the world is praiseworthy. From my small tower on the Market Square I still see tourists with cameras listening to the bells.”

"My girlhood dream came true"
TANJA DERWAHL (41) MAASTRICHT
Cellist, Johan Strauss orchestra since 1997

"As a girl of ten I saw André and his orchestra perform in Belgium. Everyone was so happy and then those beautiful dresses... fantastic! I knew right then that that was what I would like to do later! After my training at the Conservatory I was allowed to play with André. With that my girlhood dream came true. I like to sit on stage with great enthusiasm. During my time at the Conservatory I sometimes played the cello with other orchestras. Then I would think to myself: Have I been studying so hard for seven years to simply disappear in a dark orchestra pit? No, that was not for me. We present a classical entertainment show. My mission is to make people happy with the talent that I’ve been given. But it is very hard work; like a super athlete. Sometimes I miss my family very much while we are travelling. However, I feel privileged to be able to do this work. It still thrills me to see ten thousand people going home smiling, after we've played for three hours.

“It is a way of life”
STEPHANY DETRY (40) Liège.
Pianist, Johann Strauss Orchestra since 1997

I find it impressive time and again to see what André
does for his fans. With his music and image, he knows how to connect people and make them happy. It seems as if they do get to like one another more during a concert. As the pianist, I am one of the pillars of the orchestra; a great role. To perform with André is more than simply a great job; it is a way of life to which you commit yourself. I travel for half of the year which is not always easy with a husband and baby at home. Now that I am a mother, everything needs to find a new place. But other orchestra members have managed to do this before me, so I am sure I too will succeed. Fortunately André takes good care of us while we travel. With good food, nice hotels and sufficient room to occasionally withdraw. I need that. No matter how close we orchestra members are, occasionally I need to be on my own.”

"Life may continue like this forever"
AGNES FIZZANO WALTER (34) MAASTRICHT
Violinist, JSO, Since 2005

'You're the smile behind André,’ said a fan in my native Poland. At concerts I sit right behind Rieu. It is a very special role: I'm always in the picture; everything I do gets noticed and for that reason many colleagues do not want to sit there. I, on the contrary, enjoy it and am proud to be in the spotlight. As a member of the Orchestra I feel like an absolute star. Many fans know us all by name. The whole atmosphere, the fun on stage, the travelling ... to me this kind of life may continue forever. The beauty of it all is that I can share this passion with my husband. He is video editor at the Rieu company. There’s been a spark between us from the very first moment we saw each other in the studio. We are now married, have been together for eight years, and yes, we like sharing our hotel room, ha-ha-ha! Children? That is not going to happen. In our lives, everything revolves around André and his music!"

Translation by Entia

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Photo Taken at Mexico City Concert ~ September 2013

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"Hello to all my fans on The Harmony Parlor!"

Soundcheck in Maastricht 2013 (RTL Photo)

Maastricht 2012 ~ "André on The Theater Steps" by Bee

Maastricht 2012 ~ "André and Pierre on The Theater Steps" by Bee

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