Mu­si­cal mae­stro An­dre Rieu talks ex­clu­sively to the “Friend”

Vi­olin vir­tu­oso An­dré Rieu tells Alex Cor­lett of the de­lights in store for his fans on his new tour.

The People's Friend - - News -

FOR over 30 years, Dutch vi­o­lin­ist An­dré Rieu has brought a sense of spec­ta­cle to his clas­si­cal con­certs, thrilling hun­dreds of thou­sands of fans all over the world.

In the process, many would ar­gue, he has opened up the world of clas­si­cal mu­sic to a wider au­di­ence, tak­ing it back to its roots as the “pop” of its time, en­joyed by any­one and every­one.

A tire­less tourer, An­dré is back in the UK this win­ter. So what can fans look for­ward to on the night?

“Ev­ery con­cert is a unique ex­pe­ri­ence, for my orches­tra and me as for the au­di­ence,” An­dré says.

“For this year’syears show we pre­pared a com­plete new reper­toire, filled with a lot of sur­prises. Of course, we will play won­der­ful waltzes, but also well-known melodies from movies, beloved arias from mu­si­cals and op­eras, and so much more.

“There will be lovely so­pra­nos, our loyal Platin Tenors, and, ob­vi­ously, the world’s largest pri­vate orches­tra, my Jo­hann Strauss Orches­tra and choir.

“My con­certs are quite dif­fer­ent ev­ery evening!”

An­dré’s con­certs are well-known for fea­tur­ing fire­works, dancers and vi­brant cos­tumes. Was this al­ways what he had in mind when he started the orches­tra?

“When I was young, I only had one dream: to travel the world with an orches­tra of my own, play­ing mu­sic I chose.

“The Jo­hann Strauss Orches­tra was formed back in 1988 with twelve young, tal­ented mu­si­cians, some of them only just grad­u­ated from the con­ser­va­toire.”

The great show they put on, An­dré ex­plains, is only to en­hance “the mag­i­cal power of the waltz”. And it re­ally must have some magic to it, as An­dre has barely missed a show in all his years of tour­ing.

“A cou­ple of years ago I had to post­pone a tour be­cause of health is­sues, but that is the only time I wasn’t able to play.

“Don’t for­get that it is not re­ally work that I’m do­ing – it is a hobby that got out of hand a lit­tle bit!

“Play­ing – and danc­ing – waltzes is good for one’s health: a waltz a day keeps the doc­tor away!

“Be­sides hav­ing the most won­der­ful job in the whole world, I take very good care of my health. I have a per­sonal trainer with whom I do ex­er­cises on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Three or four times a week, you can find me in the gym.

“I also eat nu­tri­tious and fresh food. On tour, we have our own cater­ing team with three marvel­lous chefs, who sur­prise us ev­ery time with de­li­cious meals.”

“After the per­for­mance, I have a lit­tle chat with some mem­bers of the orches­tra. We’ll share a drink, then head to our ho­tel or go home, de­pend­ing on where we are at that mo­ment.

“My fa­ther-in-law used to

say, ‘Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.’

“Well, al­though I don’t go to bed very early, I’ll con­sider my­self rather healthy be­cause of my life­style; wealthy, be­cause of my five gor­geous grand­chil­dren; and wise, be­cause I mar­ried the most mag­nif­i­cent woman in the uni­verse!”

Not every­one knows that the vi­olin in the vir­tu­oso’s hands is ac­tu­ally a Stradi­var­ius, made by the fa­mous Ital­ian fam­ily around 300 years ago.

Most of them are now worth mil­lions, and as a re­sult An­dré’s has its very own body­guard.

“It’s true, it does! I feel very priv­i­leged to be the proud owner of this vi­olin, as it is one of the very last in­stru­ments the Ital­ian mas­ter m made.

“This piece of art – there is i no other way to de­scribe my vi­olin – dates from 1732. Ev­ery Stradi­var­ius has a sound of its own. I com­pare mine al­ways with the ra­di­ant, warm sound of the so­prano Maria Cal­las.”

It’s a good thing he’s at ease with his vi­olin, be­cause to­gether they play an as­ton­ish­ing num­ber of pieces with­out the ben­e­fit of any sheet mu­sic to prompt his mem­ory. How many pieces does An­dré know off by heart?

“I’m afraid I’ve lost count! It must be a huge num­ber. Dur­ing the con­certs I am the only one on stage with­out a score, so all pieces have to be played by heart.

“Not so easy, es­pe­cially when you re­alise that I also have to re­mem­ber the texts in or­der to an­nounce the com­po­si­tions we are play­ing, and I have to con­duct my orches­tra. I am what they call a ‘ste­hgeiger’: a stand­ing vi­o­lin­ist who con­ducts at the same time, like Jo­hann Strauss used to do.

“But I love it, and when the au­di­ence starts to smile, I know I have cho­sen the cor­rect pro­fes­sion!”

For An­dré, it’s al­ways the re­ac­tion of the fans that makes the evening mem­o­rable.

“All kind of emo­tions are al­lowed dur­ing my con­certs; there are ab­so­lutely no rules or laws to fol­low! When you feel happy, please laugh; when you feel sad, don’t be afraid to show your tears; do not be ashamed to show your feel­ings. Only then the at­mos­phere will be unique and hard to for­get.

“And that’s ex­actly what makes my con­certs a on­cein-a-life­time ex­pe­ri­ence: ev­ery­thing you see is real and authen­tic, 100% re­al­ity, 0% fake! I can’t wait to be on the UK stage again!” ■

An­dré in the Christ­mas spirit.

An­dré in po­si­tion as a “ste­hgeiger”.

A young An­dré Rieu in Maas­tricht.

Ev­ery Stradi­var­ius has its own sound. Three gen­er­a­tions of the Rieu fam­ily. An­dré’s tours are known for their sense of spec­ta­cle.

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