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Nov 22, 2015

André Rieu, "Maybe I'll become Austrian"

André Rieu, "Maybe I'll become Austrian"

"Krone" interview by: Robert Fröwein, "the Crown Newspaper": Star violinist André Rieu published a brand new studio album these last few days titled "Arrivederci Roma" and in May 2016 he will again come back to Austria to perform some selected concerts. We met the Dutchman in his "second home", on the Piazza della Rotonda in Rome for an extensive interview and discovered that even as a world traveler he always feels homesick, he is a big pop fan and is quietly looking around for a permanent place to live in Austria ...

"Krone": André, recently you released your new album "Arrivederci Roma". What special relationship with Italy do you have?
André Rieu: My wife Marjorie and I have been coming here to the Pantheon in Rome continuously for 15 years. For romantic music this city fits that perfectly.

"Krone": You and your wife your 40th anniversary this year.
Rieu: Yes, it is so important to always go back home, to where she is for me. There I receive the strength to travel the world. Without a permanent home, I would be quite lonely.

"Krone": Has your wife has become accustomed to the fact that you are always traveling so much?
Rieu: That was not so easy at first, but after the children were gone, we bought two poodles. She always says, she could not be alone without the dogs. But of course would prefer for me to be home. (laughs)

"Krone": You have a special affinity for Italy, and even released the album "A Night in Venice" last year. Why this country?
Rieu: What kind of question is that. (laughs) The music does come from Italy but - of course also from Austria, but Italy is for me the mother of music. Even the pop from today here is original and so many world hits come from this country. Certain numbers are known from Rome to Lima - that I find fantastic.

"Krone": Italians are also very spirited ...
Rieu: I am that too indeed. (laughs) So I feel quite at home here.

"Krone": Does this temperament help you achieve a good show on stage on bad days?
Rieu: This may sound stupid, but I never have a bad day. But then, only when I'm sick. But even then you have to be on stage - the show must go on and the audience can not notice anything. That I do not feel well or am depressed, it does not matter. It's nice that I can travel around the world together with my orchestra.

"Krone": You also like to show temperament when people come too late to your concert. They are then received with a wink from you. Would you like to elaborate a little bit on that?
Rieu: (laughs) So I like to tease the people a little bit with that. The latecomers are then shown large on the screen and they are all red. Punctuality for me is simply incredibly important. You cannot travel with 110 people around the world, if that does not work. Okay, here in Italy, you can forget about that. (laughs) Here I am but only a guest.

"Krone": Why did you limit yourself to only 16 songs when the "Land of Music" has so many more to offer?
Rieu: My heart always decides. Usually I have 40 songs to choose from, before I record a CD and then it is reduced in a normal fashion. That of course is hard work, but also very rewarding. We then go with the orchestra to the studio, try them out, make trial recordings and when something does not work out the way I had imagined, it is deleted. The rest remains.

"Krone": You have two families. Your orchestra family, with whom you share the stage, and your own family. Is it sometimes difficult to disregard one over the other?
Rieu: No, we have a very nice, precise schedule. We tour only two weeks at a time, except when we go to Australia, because when we go there we already lose three days just getting there. But we usually are there for more than three weeks. Normally after two weeks, we are usually back home. My orchestra members all have children, they should be able to live normally. I myself do not want to live like a gypsy traveling around the world, but also want to have a real life.

"Krone":  In your studio in Maastricht you even built a childcare area for the children of your orchestra members.
Rieu: That's right, I think I am responsible to also care for the children.

"Krone": It is also interesting that you still have your home base in your birthplace of Maastricht. House and Studio are there. If Rome agrees with you so much, why don't you ever want to move here?
Rieu: Because I'm a shitty Dutchman and love my home. (laughs) I have an enormous respect for this city and speak here in their broad dialect, which is nice. I also feel comfortable here, but I am not a Roman. It is magnificent to be here, magnificent to travel the world and even more magnificent to be home again. It balances out.

"Krone": Do you miss your home often on tour?
Rieu: Yes, of course, saying goodbye to my wife, my children and grandchildren is always difficult, but as soon as I am on the bus or plane with the orchestra , everything is forgotten.

"Krone": Have you incorporated both your two sons in your job?
Rieu: No, that went all by itself. My older son is a painter and the younger one is our assistant and works with our entourage. That happened on its own, I never pushed them.

"Krone": You once mentioned that your audience differs from country to country. Do you really notice that?
Rieu: I notice that immediately. Everywhere they are enthusiastic, but with differences. In Mexico, they are really quite crazy, and when I walk out on stage, they cry. The Americans are more reserved and have an attitude like: "Now show us what you really can do." The Japanese are extremely polite, initially I thought that it would not work. But when the balloons came down with the Radetzky March, they freaked out completely. (laughs)

"Krone": Do you sometimes have an audience, with which you do not feel comfortable?
Rieu: I've always said, my music works everywhere and I was right, that is true.

"Krone": What's the reason for that?
Rieu: I think it is the manner in which we play. We play a lot of Strauss waltzes and they are internationally known. I speak a lot in between, announce the numbers and all that probably makes it work.

"Krone": In your musical line of work you have a mix of young and old. This does not occur very frequently.
Rieu: Absolutely, they come from all walks of life to us. From the cleaning lady to the Professor, from children to the pensioners. And I do not make a distinction between the people - we are all equal.

"Krone": You came very late into the pop music. How do you view pop music in comparison to classical? Do you take them both seriously?
Rieu: I definitely make no distinction between the two styles. The classics make the distinction. For me there is only good and bad music. Bruce Springsteen or Madonna made fantastic music, but on the same token Bach also has made some shitty music. Nobody is perfect. It is not automatically good just because it is classical, or automatically bad because it's pop. A stupid attitude.

"Krone": You love to incorporate pop songs in your repertoire, such as Michel Telos' smash hit " Ai Se Eu Te Pego".
Rieu: This song was a big hit in Brazil and we incorporated it into the program because everyone went crazy when we played it. (laughs) The pop song has to be good and successful, before I play it. It just has to makes sense. This song fitted perfectly into the encores, it was the right moment to play it.

"Krone": To what extent do your orchestra members actually have a say? Or does it run a dictatorial way?
Rieu: They have a lot of input, that piece of Teló did not work well, my orchestra brought that to my attention. They gave me a tip and it worked. When I say that I find something shitty although the others do not, then we do not do it, but normally that happens very seldom.

"Krone": Do you enjoy media names such as "Maestro of the masses" or "King of the Crossover"? That you are perceived as a converter of two different spheres?
Rieu: The fact is that I really do not care, I'm also the "Waltz King". I am a bit proud of that title, it is better than not having one. (laughs) You have to just glue to my head what you want - I'll just play on. (laughs)

"Krone": In May 2016 will again come back to Graz, Salzburg and Vienna. But Austria is also indeed a land of music - how does it differ from Italy?
Rieu: Here on the Piazza della Rotonda in Rome, I must say of course that Italy is the land of music. (laughs) So many legends of course come also from Vienna, that's fantastic. I very much like to come to Austria and the audience sucks all the notes out of my violin, that is really something special.

"Krone": Are there also other things that make you particularly happy when you come back to Austria?
Rieu: I am extremely happy here, the country is incredibly beautiful. My wife and I just talked about that yesterday, that we would like to buy a house in a beautiful area in Austria. But we still have so much to do that it makes more sense to simply take a holiday here. But a house on a beautiful place in Austria would be ideal for me. The country is wonderful and the people are all very nice and friendly. Maybe it will still happen. Then I'll become an Austrian. (laughs)

"Krone": Austria was indirectly a part of blackest hour in your career, as the Schönbrunn copy almost drove you directly to the brink of economic ruin a few years ago. Have you been humbled by that in any way?
Rieu: I then promised my wife never to do such a thing again. That was unbelievable and had cost me so much money. On the other hand though, the dilemma had attracted so much worldwide publicity afterwards that all concerts were subsequently sold. When I think about Schönbrunn, two kinds of emotions come up in me. (laughs)

"Krone": Are there after so many successes, awards and experiences still dreams or illusions that you would like to achieve?
Rieu: I would just like to go on like this. Staying healthy, to have energy, making music around the world and making people happy.

"Krone" Surely, you are not usually the person who plans far ahead?
Rieu: Not at all, a maximum of one year in advance. Otherwise, I would feel restricted in my freedom, by no means do I want to be cramped. The world is constantly changing, I do not want to plan ten years in advance. Through the Internet, everything goes much easier today than in the past, I see it as a great advantage.

"Krone": You always would have loved to open a pizzeria in Italy with your wife ...
Rieu: That once was the idea earlier, but now I'm very happy that I am a musician. (laughs) Maybe later, but that's now of course not an issue.

"Krone": Besides Rome do you actually have several other places where you regularly go and feel especially comfortable?
Rieu: Once a year we go to the Black Forest, and we also go often to the Sauerland region, and of course now we want to regularly visit Austria. That's it, other than that I work all the time.

"Krone": Are there still countries or territories where you still desperately want to play?
Rieu: Oh, there are still quite a lot. For example, we have never been to Russia or Mongolia. (laughs) There is still a lot going on, the world is big and luckily we still have a lot of time.

Thank you to Ineke for the article and John Translating it.

Nov 17, 2015

Longtime André Fan Laurie Crowley Passes ...

Laurie Crowley 1928 - 2015
(Photo at the MECC in Maastricht)

Yesterday André lost a longtime, true fan ... and we lost a dear friend. Laurie gave countless hours in helping fans through Sonja's Translation Website and later The Harmony Parlor. Her ability to pull dates and information right out of her head was amazing! She was as some of us called her "a walking encyclopedia"! And always willing to help and share her wealth of knowledge of André and Company with all the fans.

To those of us who were lucky enough to know and call her a friend, we will never forget her. Our sympathy goes out to her husband Noel and family. Rest in Peace now Laurie ... 

A Personal note from her son Mike ...
Laurie's family is extremely touched by the loving public tributes to our mother/wife/grandmother from her fellow Andre super-fans. She so enjoyed your friendship and the bond you shared through Andre's music and that of the many talented musicians who perform with him. Thank you for helping to bring so much joy into her life. 

Laurie, Noel, Sonja and Maggie

►Click HERE To Read Laurie's Obituary
(Details of the funeral are on the Guestbook)

Nov 15, 2015

André Rieu, Fit As a Fiddle

André Rieu, Fit As a Fiddle

From (Algemeen Dagblad) by Arno Gelder: It's the week of André Rieu. Friday-November 13, 2015 his new album "Arrivederci Roma" and his DVD "Wonderful World", the recording of the Vrijthof concerts last summer will be released. Moreover, the violinist performs in the Gelredome in Arnhem on Saturday. And we thought that André was going to take it a little easier.

André Rieu lays flowers in Bucharest

His tears were sincere and bitter - not the fake ones which stars tend to shed when they know that cameras are oriented on them. Whoever knows André Rieu (66) knows, that he - the main exporter of music of Dutch origin in the world - does not need to generate publicity at the expense of an intense grieving population. Last weekend André Rieu flew to Bucharest to especially help the Romanians in their grief over the now 47 fatalities who died in a nightclub fire.

"In June my orchestra and I were so amazingly received in Romania ... I considered it my solemn duty to express my condolences. To lay flowers at the site of the disaster and to light a candle. And yes, I burst into tears. The grief overwhelmed me."

But André Rieu, who will be donating the proceeds from the DVD recording of his Romanian concerts to the relatives of the perished, must go on. Saturday the violinist/conductor conducts a concert in the Arnhem Gelredome - and Friday the " Arrivederci Roma" CD and the "Wonderful World" DVD, a recording of the traditional appearances of Rieu on the Vrijthof in Maastricht, will be released.

And we thought that you would take it easier ...
André Rieu: "Oh, but I do take myself into account. Look, up until you are 40, everything goes fine; working hard, long and late nights. Between your 40th and 60th it is starting to creek and peep a little and from 60 on, you have to watch yourself, especially when you travel all over the whole world."

"I exercise three times a week. My trainer puts down a mat, and I go to work. Push-ups, recovering. Really intensive. Yummy? Nah, I can tell you what I like, but they are not these workouts. Yet they are necessary. Twice as you know, I have been downed due to stress. The first time I was out of circulation for three months , but all salaries still had to be paid. My account showed large deficits. When it happened to me the second time - in bed where everything again spun before my eyes - I told myself: "Never again. Now I'm fit as a fiddle. But I have to maintain that."

Your new album is an ode to Italy, especially the capital.
"We love Rome. We go there every year with the entire family for our traditional three days. Also for the music, of course. Every time I am again fascinated by Rome. What the Romans accomplished 2000 years ago without computers, mobile phones and hydraulic equipment, is phenomenal".

"The Coliseum was built in four years. Well I do know that the Roman Empire was soaked in blood, but still ... Freek de Jonge once said: "The Delta Works are the last major thing the Dutch have achieved." And that's true. Let's take the ancient Romans as an example. We complain ourselves silly about our traffic jams, but do not do a thing about it. Could we not collectively put our shoulders to the grind stone"?

"I did it with the copy of Schönbrunn Palace. Unprecedented. I decided to stick 34 million into that dream. A huge irritancy to the bank. I suffered a phenomenal loss and did stick my neck out. By the way the finances are now entirely back in order again."

You just returned from South America and will soon travel to Britain and Ireland for an extensive tour. Are you ever at home anymore? With the holidays for example?

"Yeah, I try that as much as possible. Ivan and Fleur, Marc's children are now six and five, they expect another child in January. Pierre's twins, Linde and Lieke, are 6. They looked at the Sinterklaas Journal for the first time. With real black Peters, yes of course."

"I really hope that lady of the United Nations, who is so concerned about our wonderful Sinterklaas tradition, focuses on something else. Like for example, ISIS!! Come on now, there is not a more tolerant country than the Netherlands. We even pay for the mosques here. Try and build a church in Mecca. For me, Peter needs to remain just black."

Are you now carefully practicing your poetry?
"Really, I cannot do that. I'm stuck with 'poop' and 'doorstep'. " But a successful surprise will still happen. What did I do last year? Phew, let me think. Oh dear, I was not here then. I was in Dublin with the orchestra."

Do you still want to go the moon with the Johann Strauss Orchestra, as you once suggested?
"I'm waiting for the moment that Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group will build his hotel there. He promised me. "But I still have a lot of aspirations here on earth. Would still like to conquer the United States. I've been there several times, but now I would like to gain a sure footing there. It is a difficult audience, though. "Show us," they say there. They are incredibly spoiled. By the way, where are you from? Holland? Is that next to Denmark? They have no idea. They also want me to play American music, but I remain faithful to the waltz."

Do your grandchildren know that they have a famous grandfather?
"It is now dawning on them. But a famous grandfather? I am just an ordinary grandfather who loves his grandchildren. Pierre lives right around the corner from me, and he calls me "the stalker", because so often I come by just for the children".

"Marc and Pierre know that Marjorie and I are not babysitting grandparents. Our lives are too irregular. But when I'm in Mexico, I am definitely on Skype. And I always bring gifts from overseas. But now you notice that they have dates with their friends and Marjorie and I have become less important, until they are 17. Then it will be: "Grandpa, we're going on a weekend trip to Berlin. Can we borrow your car? " And of course they will get to use it."

Thanks to Ineke for the article and John for Translating it.

Nov 5, 2015

René Henkett's Trumpet Collection

Instrument Collection
Does Lidl Deal in Trumpets?

Trumpeter René Henket from Vaesrade has been traveling with André Rieu since the very beginning of the Salon Orchestra. He possesses a large collection of trumpets, and during his concert travels with the Strauss orchestra he searches for local trumpet methods. "I will never sell another trumpet."

By: Jan Cuijpers, the Limburger - While sitting in front of two cabinets full of trumpets, René Henkett (47) talks only about his passion for teaching. His elaborate trumpet collection - the reason for this story - only becomes the main subject when asked about it. Already in the living room he enthusiastically started talking about a new aid in teaching: a mouthpiece with a built-in small camera. Until now a trumpet teacher resorted to using a nozzle without a cup, or a transparent mouthpiece (approximate) to see what happens in the nozzle, but now the lip movements can be followed throughout the playing, being recorded and replayed in slow motion on the computer. That way you can very quickly identify and correct problems you have with the mouthpiece, according to the enthusiastic André Rieu trumpeter. The walls of his classroom and annex rehearsal hall in the long garden behind his duplex in Vaesrade are covered with posters about mouthpiece problems and how to solve them. "Teaching is one of my passions. Currently I have a few students, and some advanced trumpet players who come by once every so many weeks. But I am already thinking about the next time." That is why it is not strange that Henket goes and searches for local teaching methods in all the countries he visits. He opens a drawer filled with lesson materials and shows a method as an example from East Germany. " And in the attic I have cabinets full" according to the music school graduated trumpeter. "On tour I develop lesson materials. For instance how you can continue on playing with braces. Very often you see students drop out the moment they get braces. As far as I am concerned that is totally not necessary when you have adapted lesson materials which still challenges the student. And so I would like to develop a path for each individual student."

Another item he has many drawers full of are mouth pieces. For a very long time he had a phobia about mouth pieces Henket says. That led to his father, a very talented bench worker, changing mouthpieces from brand "A" to René's favorite brand "B". His quest to an ideal combination provided him with a huge collection. "My colleague Roger Diederen eventually helped me get over my mouth piece phobia. He could not understand me in that at all. "Just take a mouthpiece and start playing" he always told me. I have taken that over from him." In the rehearsal hall Henket's two passions flow perfectly together. Besides teaching there is his collection of dozens of trumpets. "Occupational hazard" he calls it. "Once I sold an American 'Bach Lightweight'. I felt very sorry about that, and decided never again to sell a trumpet. Indeed, he not only keeps the trumpets which he acquires to play on professionally in his possession, but he regularly buys a rare specimen. He reaches into the cabinet: "This is a 'Monke' a three generations old Cologne trumpet builder, serial number 29, built by founder Joseph Monke himself. Bought in a flea market in Belgium for 75 Euro's. For 1000 Euro's I had the instrument refurbished and currently I am offered large sums of money for it, primarily by German Orchestras." Another noteworthy instrument from his collection is a 'piccolo trumpet' which used to belonged to Maurice André. "Maurice André is the king of the trumpets as far as I am concerned. I basically have all his things. My first teacher, Pierre Wilhelmus was one of André's students. That is how I acquired the piccolo." Also of interest is a C-trumpet by Schille, of which only three were ever made. And then there is also a sort of cornet. Not with valves, but with holes.

With a small camera in the tip you can quickly detect problems in the mouthpiece
Laughingly he says: "Those are baroque trumpets. Five years ago I needed a new challenge. I have always had an interest in baroque trumpets. I found out that just across the border, in Herzogenrath, a baroque trumpet builder lived there: Marcus Lechter. And through him I again came in contact with Anna Freeman, who taught at the conservatorium in Cologne. She lives in Aachen and I take lessons from her, just for myself and not for professional gains - although playing the baroque trumpet does help me in my current trumpet playing." Dozens of trumpets line the cabinet. One, on the top shelve lies down, too big to stand up. "That is a base trumpet from Brno in the Czech Republic. A Fan-tas-tich instrument" according to the lyrical Henket. The non expert is unlikely to buy that instrument. In large letters 'LIDL' is reflected on the bell ...

 Thanks to John for this and it's Translation.

Oct 23, 2015

Interview With Pierre Rieu ~ Son of André Rieu

Pierre Rieu, son of André Rieu
"If my father would stop, the company would continue on like normal"

By Vivian Lataster: We are being received in a beautiful castle on the edge of Maastricht, in where the offices are also located. The huge reception hall in a Viennese appearance makes us immediately feel that we are the guests in André Rieu's castle. This time not for a nice interview with the "King of the Waltz" but with the vice-president of André Rieu productions and son: Pierre Rieu (34). A candid interview with a driven personality. About hard lessons in life, his future and a desire for a society where we have more understanding of each other. Therefore, he ensured that the Rakonti theater production is back again in theaters in November. "We often have no idea what it means for disabled people to "just" be part of society."

"Sometimes they were hard lessons in life"

You have recently ensured that the show Rakonti returns back into the theaters. The performance is inspired by the world-renowned TEDx conferences, telling people with disabilities, their family members, caregivers and volunteers their stories. Touching, poignant and sometimes hilarious, but always true to life. Why did you want that?

"Rakonti is a wonderful performance which really deserves to be back in theaters. I indicated that directly after the performance. I am convinced that if we know more about each other, have heard each other's story, there will eventually be more understanding and providing more space. More space to be yourself. To be human, which everyone deserves. This performance can contribute to that. That makes it special. I'm glad it worked out and wish for them full venues. In fact: they deserve it!"

"How did you happen to come across a performance like this?
"At the invitation of a lady friend, my wife and I attended. Rakonti subsequently put me to thinking. Of course everyone wishes for a one hundred percent healthy child, but when you have a disability, that does not mean it is the end of the world. In fact, I heard some very exceptional stories that evening which inspired me. With these performances you should be able to reach many more people. More than just the people who are directly affected. For example if you could also reach entrepreneurs , there would certainly be more room in the future for disabled people to 'just' to be part of society. I have a godchild whose brother has a disability. He is now 22 years old and recently has acquired a real job as a horse caretaker. You cannot imagine what that means for the whole family. That boy now feels independent, has an income, money that he can spend, the right to exist, and is a person. That's wonderful and it is so important. Rakonti can form an important part in that and that is why I thought they needed to do more with that.

You have been working with André Rieu Productions since you were nineteen years old. You never hesitated to enter into your father's company?
"No, never. I wanted it very much myself and it were my parents who really supported me in that decision. Until I had children myself I was gone an awful lot -- more so than Dad. That was primarily because I often went ahead and returned later from foreign concert tours. In addition, it was often I who went on to do research: researching locations, securing contracts. In the beginning I organized the entire technique and the traveling part. I did that for eight years. In that aspect I was really thrown to the lions. I was nineteen years old and still had to learn everything. Sometimes they were hard lessons of life, but I have grown enormously since. Now I sometimes think it might have been better if I had first gone to work or had studied, looked in someone else's kitchen."

"I wanted the best for everyone and presumed they wanted the same for me."

"What if your father decides to quit?"
"I'm quite busy studying the violin ........ no, ha, ha! If my father unexpectedly quits, then the company will continue on like normal. Let me put it this way: Joost Zwagerman (Dutch author who recently passed away) has never sold so many books as he does now. That is how it is with a lot of artists. Which on the one hand is a pity, but also very beautiful. A tribute to an artist. The legacy of André is gigantic: the company continues on. In addition, I, together with my wife, we are writing an animated series for children, in which André stars. it's not about André himself, but primarily about things that pertain to children aged four to seven. Educational without being pedantic. It also has to be especially fun for children. Stories about the life of an eleven year old boy with long hair, a costume and a violin. But for now we still have a lot of concerts on the agenda and we would still like to conquer North America. A big tour in 2016-2017. Then it will have to happen."

"You spoke about the hard lessons of life. Do you have an example?"
"The hardest lesson I learned when I was on the road is that the people you are with are not your friends. They are colleagues. Friends you have at home. I do have colleagues who I can rely upon tremendously, day or night, but they can never be friends. I wanted the best for everyone and presumed they wanted the same for me. But it does not work like that. Eventually I am still the boss' son. At times I came home crying, but in the meantime I have learned that it does not work that way. Friendship for me means one hundred percent confidence. Confidence, confidence. That is so important. It will only harm you once."

"What do your friends say about you?"
"Pffft ....Why don't you ask them that yourself?"

"What would you like to have them say about you?"
"I hope that they like me and that they know I am there for them whenever they need me. That I am someone who does a lot of goofy things, has a lot of energy. I believe that I also can be 'serious'. Sometimes I have to think before I speak. In my work I can solve situations easier and better. I can converse better there since it is about the business. With friends that is more difficult. I very quickly feel someone else's emotions. I cannot handle conflicts between people who are dear to me. That can keep me awake nights."

"Do you lie awake a lot at night?"
"I wake up with ideas and also go to sleep with them. In one way or another the inspiration happens when I am in bed. I can also stay very much awake and worry myself silly."

"What do you ponder about then?"
"That, I would like to keep to myself. Well, yes, it does go in all directions. They are not always positive things."

"Are they bad thoughts?"
"Let me just say that I like to ponder. That is the nature of the beast."

"Does it also bring you positive thoughts?"
"Of course, that is why I always have a note book next to my bed. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and wonder what in heaven's name I wrote down. I apparently did that in my sleep. But most of the time it makes sense. Especially when it is associated with my work. My contract does not state precisely how I am to perform my duties, so that leaves a lot of room to ponder."

"What does your contract state?"
"My primary task is to ensure that André can do his job as well as possible."

"When you speak about work you speak about André?"
"Dad, André changes back and forth. At home it is 'Dad'."

"How are thing in the house of Rieu? Is it always about work?"
"Only work? that is impossible. But work is not a dirty word. So, yes, there is a lot spoken about work, but none of us have a problem with that. That is entrepreneurship. We talk and discuss a lot of what we can and still would like to do. Eventually you are responsible for a large business but at the end of the month everyone needs to be paid their salary. If you see that as continuous pressure, you should stay very far away from that. André started this because he wanted to be free. Freedom, freedom, freedom! That he has achieved."

"Do you also experience that freedom?"
"Uhmmm, had I not told you that, I would not have received that question, would I? I will have to remember that for the next time! I feel very responsible for all I require from myself. I feel very free, and could be freer, I think. But feel especially responsible."

"On the downside, are your expectation set too high?"
"I have placed my own expectation very high. I am a perfectionist. And I did not inherit that from strangers. That is why I feel so extremely responsible. I am extremely thankful for everything my parents have done for me. Not only for me, but for everyone around them.

"Do you have difficulties saying 'no'?"
"Yes, and that too did not come from strangers, but I can definitely do it for André."

"What does it then do for you?"
"Yes, that is a real good one.....My wife. She does that well and I listen to her mostly. I am slow in learning to say 'no' and with that guarding my limits. Not too long ago there were many festivities around the liberation of Maastricht. Because of my hobby, collecting old army vehicles, I am often asked to participate with my collection. Lately I have declined these invitations, because they always take more time than I anticipate."
"Are you an emotional person?"
"Yes, very much so."

"Are you religious?"
"No, not at all. I is alright with me if there are people like that. As long as they do not push that upon me, everyone may believe what he wants."

"So, you would not light a candle in the church?"
"No. I find that a nice gesture, but nothing more than that. Last year my father-in-law suddenly passed away. And there was his picture next to a candle in the house. I liked it, but did not attach any further value to that. For me, dead is dead. That's when it ends. The switches are turned off and that is it."

"Are you not afraid of death?"
"For the surviving relatives I find it terrible, but I am not afraid to die. It makes no sense at all. Eventually we'll all die."

"Are there things you absolutely still want to achieve, a sort of bucket list?"
" Together with someone I'm trying to start a museum here in my warehouse. He has a wonderful collection of World War II stuff and I have a collection of old military vehicles. I think it's important that we keep the history alive. To establish a reality center where children can experience the second world war. From all the attractions you can experience all the facts, the fight of the combat soldiers, the fear of the people in hiding and the violence of D-Day in Normandy. If you can see it, then the children can maybe imagine a little bit of what it was like. Here it comes again. When you know each other's stories, there might also be more understanding. Although it will always remain difficult."

Pierre Rieu: Born in Maastricht June 24, 1981 and has been married since 2008 to Eefje. Together they have five year old twin girls, Lieke and Linde. After secondary school he studied law at the University of Maastricht, but decided to terminate his studies after just five weeks. Since 2000 he has been employed with André Rieu productions and in 2005 became vice president.

Thanks to John for the Translation

Oct 7, 2015

How André Rieu Travels

Another Chapter From the Book "Rieu, Maestro Without Borders"

Written by Peter Peters (2014) - In 1988 André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra went for the first time on tours in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany. Six years later, the successful adaptation of Shostakovich’s ‘The Second Waltz’ ensured a breakthrough. In a Bavarian commercial Rieu drove around in a steamroller to three-quarter time, and during the intermission of the soccer match in 1995 between Ajax and Bayern Munich, he was standing midfield playing that piece on his violin. (Link below for video) The success of this adaptation was the beginning of a European career, initially mainly in Germany, and later on also in many other countries. Since 1997, the orchestra travels almost yearly to the United States. The construction of the studio in Amby (a quarter in Maastricht) in 2001 where Rieu since then has been producing his own CDs, videos and DVDs, coincided with his first tour to Japan. Two years later the tour in that country consisted of seventeen concerts in eleven cities.

In 2004 there was a change in the organization of concert tours. Just like many travelling artists, Rieu worked with local agents and production offices. They managed the rental of venues, technical support and ticket sales. Since the tour in 2002 to the United States did not go well, it was decided to do the organization in-house, and no longer use the services of the promoters. Rieu thought that his company could do better business directly with the venues where he would be performing. By letting his own staff take over the role of intermediary, he would not only be more efficient, but also more profitable. Rieu and his immediate staff were thus able to control the logistics surrounding the performances into the smallest details.

Since 2004 how do Rieu and his company operate in regards to the organization of a foreign tour? What is involved in organizing a series of concerts in, for example Brazil or China? It begins with an assessment of the market for Rieu's music. The extent of the market depends not only on his fame and popularity in a country, but also on the economic prosperity. 

In order to investigate the opportunities, Frans Neus and CFO Roel VanVeggel travel to cities where venues are available which suit the kind of concerts Rieu gives: a minimum of six thousand seats, space for the public to leave their seats and waltz in the aisles, and enough space for the stage apparatus. According to Neus the availability of suitable venues in a country is crucial. After determining the concert dates, the planning of the tour starts, contracts are drafted with the venues and vendors of Rieu products, such as program booklets, CDs, DVDs, and the local support organizations. To generate publicity around the concerts, the company arranges interviews for Rieu with local and national television and radio channels.

A recent example. In the summer of 2013 the company made plans to go to China. Previous tours to South America and Mexico were hugely successful and a massive market beckoned. Rieu has had his eye on China for a long time, says Frans Neus from his office in Maastricht, although the Chinese do not buy CDs, they are very responsive to everything that comes from Europe, especially where it concerns music. "We are looking at China because we are constantly having to find new markets. In order to keep the business going, it is essential to perform at least a hundred profitable concerts annually. That means that with traveling, days off during a tour and promotional activities you are on the road almost 200 days a year. There have been years with as many as 120 concerts. In China, we completed contracts with venues in Shanghai and Beijing (the latter was dropped due to date/technical reasons). The same occurred with Taiwan. When you have a venue and a date, you can start the sales. Part of the seat sales we’ll do ourselves, while another part is handled by a local organization. In the case of Shanghai, it is AAG, a major US promoter. Most tickets are sold over the internet. Regarding publicity, we develop a strategy for each country. Which is the best newspaper to advertise in, which radio and television stations are there? We prefer to make our own specials available. The station then has materiel and we then purchase suitable commercial slots."

Neus does not doubt that the concerts in China will be a success. "It is a universal formula. I do not think there is a country where that does not work. If you only see the concert and not the environment, you would not know in which country you are." A universal formula regarding the programming of concerts goes hand in hand with a standardization of transportation of the orchestra to enable concerts.

The decision to minimize the dependency on local facilitators has many consequences regarding the logistics. For an international tour not only do about 50 orchestra members, soloists and their instruments travel, but so does the technical crew and a large part of the equipment, needed for the concerts. In order to perform concerts on several continents within a short period of time, the company has four complete sets of musical instruments, costumes and technical equipment at the home base in Maastricht, Europe, America and Asia. This for instance reduces the risk that musical instruments remain stuck somewhere along the way. To give one an idea of the scope: a set can consist of seven trucks full of light, sound and video equipment, musical instruments and costumes. The accompanying crew travels in three converted buses, each with twelve beds. 

Not only are the instruments and technical equipment taken along, but for instance also washing machines, with which the men’s shirts are laundered after each concert. Two chefs ensure an elaborate buffet for the musicians and crew every evening. They cook with fresh and local produce. Peter de Beer has been travelling along as resident physician on the orchestra’s intercontinental journeys for several years. He brings along a large suitcase with medicines, but more importantly, he finds out where in a city the good hospitals are located. As a specialist in tropical diseases, he knows, thanks to his network, where to find good medical care in non-European countries. During a recent tour to Istanbul three judo mats came along, so that Rieu could do his daily workout in his hotel room under the guidance of his personal trainer. The more the company can regulate matters by itself, the less it is dependent on others.

Information about the book: Dutch title: Rieu, Maestro Zonder Grenzen. Available in Dutch only. Authors: Maaike Meijer, Peter Peters, Jac. van den Boogard. Publisher: De Bezige Bij and can be ordered at ►

Translated by Entia from South Africa and John from the USA 

Oct 1, 2015

André Rieu Awarded For 35 Million Albums

An Award For 35 Million André Rieu Albums

It is a party for André Rieu. On his 66th Birthday he received a very special present: he received an award from his record company "Universal" because he sold 35 million records worldwide. That makes him the best selling classical artist in the world.

RTL Boulevard: Oct. 1, 2015 - He was presented this award in Rome during a press conference. "This is fantastic. I did not know I would receive this," the proud musician told RTL Boulevard.

Not yet retired
The 66 year old André is definitely not think about retiring. "It is so enjoyable what we are doing, traveling the world together with my orchestra. Why should I stop? Everything is getting better and people are beginning to know me more," explains the violinist. He regularly receives reaction from his enthusiastic spectators. "I did not know you play such nice music. I'm also a fan," André said about a fan's reaction.

And luckily for his fans, in the coming years they are not getting rid of him yet. "We just agreed, we are going to add another 20 year on to it."

Starting this month, he will again be traveling the world over: Mexico, Turkey, France, Belgium, England, Germany. And on Saturday, November 14th, André Rieu and his orchestra will be in the Gelredome.

Thank you to John for the Translation

Sep 30, 2015

André's Birthday is tomorrow, October 1st
Happy Birthday André!!
And - André told John Suchet in Rome yesterday he will have a new grandchild in January!

Sep 28, 2015

Violinist Alina-Lin Jong Paintings

Travel Impressions by Rieu Orchestra On Canvas

People, colors, landscapes. A journey with the orchestra of André Rieu is never boring. Since 1991 Alina-Lin Jong has been a violinist in the world famous orchestra. Many impressions she experiences during the journeys she translates into colorful paintings with quirky abstracts. For Saturday and Sunday the Wynja studio will combine paintings, sculptures and music in an extraordinary triptych exhibition. In addition to paintings by Alina Lin there will also be sculptures by Trudy Steegh. The exhibition starts with the third form of art: music. Accompanied on the piano by her partner Ruud Merx, Alina Lin will perform concerts on both days.

While studying at the Conservatory of Maastricht, Alina Lin joined Rieu's orchestra through one of her classmates. "Back then we were only with thirteen musicians. We rehearsed weekly and had a couple of gigs a year in Limburg." The orchestra broke through in 1994 with the Second Waltz by Dmitri Shostakovich, it became a hit and since then, the orchestra travels all over the world. "We just returned from South America. Santiago had four sold-out concerts and in Lima 17.000 people attended a concert . "You can make people happy with music everywhere", she says. "Critics do not find the Rieu orchestra a classical orchestra. That does not matter. It's not a competition. Many people experience classical music as being heavy. We play a much more accessible, lighter repertoire. And the audience is allowed to chat or dance. That's what makes it so special."

Alina-Lin met her husband Ruud Merx in the orchestra. "He is the trombonist who balances the trombone on his chin." Ruud will also be at the Wynja studio to accompany his wife on the piano. On Saturday and Sunday they will perform a concert of about an hour. The program remains a surprise. "It is a light repertoire and we are taking a small world trip. Ruud is quite excited about it. And: one is allowed to sing along."

In addition to her part-time job with André Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra, Alina Lin paints. "It's for relaxation. I love color and shape. Sometimes something unaware of my travels appears in the paintings. "In fact an Australian soprano discovered a lane from Brisbane in one of the paintings. "It is very nice to hear that people recognize something."

During the exhibition Trudy Steegh will show sculptures which exude a sense of security, belonging and power. She captures emotions in stone. Her sculptures show people's important emotional moments. Intimate, loving and with a melancholy character. Trudy works from her own emotions and spirituality. Stone, perception and intuition are for her the guidance for a figurative design 'which make you ponder for a while.' Picture: Sietse - Thank you to John for the Translation and Benny Geets for sending the article.

Sep 23, 2015

A Chapter From: "Rieu, Maestro Without Borders"

A Chapter From The Book
"Rieu, Maestro Without Borders"

Istanbul, November 2014: By  Maaike Meijer - Gosha handles the makeup of all orchestra members, clothes them and makes - together with Nelly Custers and Mien Depondt - all the dresses. She has been working for Rieu for fourteen years already. "I know what André has in mind, I know his taste. He always looks at our design, but also to the final result, when the orchestra member tries the dress on for the first time. Often he changes something on it. Many of the dresses which are currently being worn are still designed by Nellie Custers. We do not work according to a historical model, and, contrary to what some people think, no copies are made of nineteenth-century Viennese ball gowns, contrary to what some people might think. It is the Italian wedding which inspires us, where the bride is often dressed in an flamboyant style. All dresses run from a narrow waist, with a petticoat, so that they stand out full from the center outwards.

André himself selects the fabrics. He likes beautiful clothes and historical costumes. Whenever we make a new dress, we also take into account what the wearer would like. For a dress that would be crucial to a performance, such as the one for soloist Carla Maffioletti, we purchase ten times as much fabric as is needed, and then André decides what he finds most suitable. The color of the dress should compliment the personality of the person.

A dress needs six meters of fabric. We do not use silk, because it doesn’t wash well. Satin is better. The clothing must be durable, because it will be subjected to a lot of packing and unpacking. If we – no matter where - find exceptionally beautiful dresses anywhere which are particularly well suited for someone, we will purchase them. They must have classic allure, radiate wealth and breathe historic atmosphere. André has a vision in his head; he really visualizes an image, and we attempt to approach that.

When designing, we also have to take into account the changing of costumes. That often needs to happen quickly. A soloist may have to change costumes four times within the same performance and that also means four different sets of matching shoes and jewelry. Fortunately I’m not prone to stress. Sometimes a zipper breaks on stage and then you have to solve the problem within a minute, often quickly stitching it up and then figure out how to repair it permanently and properly later. All that matters is that it looks good on stage … ‘The show must go on’.

The costumes have changed over the years. The dresses used to have a more common style, with large puff sleeves. The fabrics used to be more lustrous and colorful and often 
even had a opalescent sheen. That was followed by a transitional period, with lots of embroidery and ‘old-fashioned’ designs. Today the costumes are more modern. They have also become more expensive: a dress takes 120 work hours to make, which, together with the cost of the fabric, represents a cost of three-and-a-half thousand Euros. The decorations and rhinestones are sewn on by hand.

We have an excellent seamstress in our team and two embroiderers. Every lady in the Orchestra has four dresses. We have the entire outfits in four-fold, including the instruments. So do the math: fifteen thousand Euros per female orchestra member. But through those dresses our orchestra is not a boring black and white scenario like other orchestras. We also have beautiful little jackets, because it can be cold and the ladies have plunging necklines.

The men’s outfits are not as labor intensive – ha-ha – but they too have four tuxedos each (tailcoats), which we buy from tailors who do customized sewing. They cost twelve hundred Euros each. The tuxedos have also been modernized over the years. 
Adjustments are made to ensure a perfect fit whenever someone loses or picks up some weight. The suit has to fit well, has to breathe and allow for ease of movement, a cellist for instance needs sleeves that allow for big movements which are essential when playing that instrument. 

I start each concert at eight o'clock with the makeup for the tenors. Many of the ladies do that themselves, but the men there are less skillful in that. After the show I am still busy for a long time, packing, laundering shirts. The men's shirts have to be washed after every performance, but I like doing that. They must always look pristine when on stage."

Translation by John (USA) and Entia (South Africa) - We thank the Publisher for their permission to translate this for The Harmony Parlor

Information about the book: Dutch title: Rieu, Maestro Zonder Grenzen. Available in Dutch only. Authors: Maaike Meijer, Peter Peters, Jac. van den Boogard. Publisher: De Bezige Bij and can be ordered at ►














Photo Taken at Mexico City Concert ~ September 2013




"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