Andre Rieu is always in Love
Interview in the Dutch newspaper “the Telegraaf” December 18th 2005.
Translation Ineke Cornelissen/ Sonja
At the picture with the article the text says: “The audience
enjoys themselves, but that is not allowed by the critics”.
André Rieu likes to live on the peaks of his emotions. The
fearless son of a conductor seems to be in love all the time.
He is the leader of his own orchestra of 120 persons (that is
a misunderstanding, must be 50 persons) and travels around
the world for at least 6 months a year. He does not hesitate
to slightly improve a piano concert by Beethoven. André
seldom gives interviews: “I get tired of all that
incomprehension”. The violinist, reviled by critics and idolized
by his fans, is married and father of 2 sons.
"I am four horses, my wife Marjorie holds the reins".
His castle in Maastricht is home for house father Rieu (56). Near the gigantic Christmas tree
(“The tree was already there before Sinterklaas (Dutch Santa Claus,see newsletter of December
5th), because of TV taping for the United States”),
he stretches comfortably on the coach. “You are sitting opposite
a man who was not allowed to get bored as a youngster". That
word was forbidden in our family. My mother said there was
always something useful to do. I chose the violin over the
sandbox. Now when I am bored, I go to sleep. I can sleep
always and everywhere. That is necessary, for I live a very
hectic life. Before Christmas we’ll go on a big tour through the
USA. I live intensely. That is also a conviction. I don’t believe I
can wait for heaven later on. You have to live today and make
the best of it”.
This year André celebrated his 30th wedding anniversary with his Marjorie. Together they have 2
sons, Marc (27) and Pierre (25). André is full of love. “Every day I am still in love with Marjorie,
her face, her eyes, her curly hair. I saw her for the first time at the age of 11. She was 13. She
was in my sisters class and she came to a Sinterklaas party at our home. I immediately thought:
She is the one I am going to marry. Later on she came to see me as I studied at the music
academy in Brussels. She did not intend to stay, but we were and are meant for each other. I
think we were engaged for half an hour, and then she was in my arms and we got married soon
He is grinning: “Together with Marjorie I also had my years of rebellion. You know how that is: I
was about twenty years old, wanted to quit with music, threw my violin into the closet. I was
rebelling against the seriousness of my father. Against the very serious way the classical music
had been introduced into our house. I put in earrings, wore strange clothes and Marjorie and I
wanted to start a pizzeria. We already looked at some places. I had the idea that I could play the
violin near the tables for the customers. Marjorie was very wise. She said: Okay, but than you
might as well keep your violin as a profession”. That is what happened. I am four horses, Marjorie
holds the reins. She puts the drag on, she guides. She always did, and still does”.
Are you each others mirror image or are you opposites?
“We the same in many ways. There are only a few differences. I prefer to watch 'shoot em up'
movies, Marjorie likes Grace Kelly. Marjorie comes from a merchants family, who fled from Berlin,
Germany, during the second world war. She learned about doing business from very young on
and she has also musical talents in her genes. She does a lot of negotiations for the tours, the
DVD’s, the orchestra. That is why I can go on dreaming and making music. Marjorie also assists
my ears. She participates during the try-outs and she takes notes. Afterwards we check the whole
Gestures: “She does not join us often on far away tours. Marjorie does not like to fly and we both
have the opinion that she should not stand in my shadow. Like Yehudi Menuhin’s wife did, in the
past. She was sitting somewhere in a corner of the concert hall and she had nothing to do.
Marjorie is different. She is the manager of the Rieu company”.
He takes a short break, smiles: “We have two sons, who accentuate our differences. One is a
dreamer and one is a worker. The oldest one, Marc, almost finished his study of art history. He is
an expert in film music, has an Ipod of knowledge in his head. I think he is going to be an art
painter. The youngest son, Pierre, has worked in the Rieu organization since he was 19 years
old, He was a law student for three weeks and after that he said he wanted to work again! From
his 14th he drove a truck like a real adult roadie. Now he works for the tour management and he
takes care for the venues, so we can make music and we can have nice meals. Everything….”
Does André Rieu have a mentor? Who inspired him to popularize the classical music?
It is because of my fathers concerts. He played a waltz of Johann Strauss as an encore at the
end of a heavy classical concert and than you saw the audience sway a little…. That is what I
wanted: to make people happy with music. If a very complicated piece of Hindemith is performed
in the Concert Building, everybody sits listening with pinched bottom to hear if a mistake has
been made. If Johann Strauss waltzes are played, the atmosphere is relaxed. Waves of positive
energy are streaming through the hall. To me that is also the definition of romance. The courage
to live with feelings. Without the hysteric impulse to bring a message. I quote Godfried Bomans (
a Dutch comic writer): You should dare to feel horribly happy.
André repeats: "My mentor? I admired Toon Hermans ( a Dutch
stand-up comedian) for his timing. And further on - it sounds
opinionated - I do a lot of things in my own way. I dare to change
the compositions of famous composers a little bit. With a few changes
the Bolero of Ravel sounds just a little bit nicer and I adapt some bars
in the piano concert of Beethoven. I think that lovely melodies should
not only be appreciated in smaller circles. I change them the way they
can be enjoyed by concert halls full of people”.
The violinist is laughing softly: "A critic from Denver wrote that I paid my orchestra members extra
for smiling during the performance. This man had not looked around! The whole concert hall is
smiling during my concerts! If you were able to hold on to the atmosphere for a long period after
the concerts, it would good for world peace.”
How do you relax?
"I love construction work. Brick laying. When I was young I built a brand new bathroom in my
parents summerhouse in France, out of nothing. Great work! First the foundation in the meadow
and than build it up. I am very much the handy-man. Could have been a good plumber as well. I
have to, living in a castle which is built out of soft Limburg stone. I have a year round handy-man
to do repairs in the castle. If he has finished on one side, he can start at the other side again”.
Does he not fear for his hands? To stir cement with hands
which play a 2 million Euros Stradivarius?
Sincere: Never in my live have I been afraid of something like that.
So my answer is “no”. I do have a sense for responsibility, I am a
go-getter, and I think positively. I always have the feeling: everything
shall turn out well.
Can somebody hurt you? Can you cope with criticism?
André Rieu swallows. "I think I have become stronger through all that criticism. But it is not nice to
hear critics say that my music is elevator music… Well, I am selling more CDs than anybody else.
After criticism, Marjorie comforts me with letters from fans. Recently I got a letter from the parents
of a spastic girl. My music relaxed her and she could move better. That touches me.
Do you know who was the only person from the serious critics who dared to give me
compliments? The famous Dutch classical violinist Herman Krebbers! Once he was one of my
teachers and he does not think I am on the wrong track.
Of the main sins Lord of the Castle André Rieu chooses without hesitation: greed?
He gives a wink: "Not for the castle and for everything we own, but like Herman Brood (Dutch
artist and “free bird”): I collect beautiful moments."
He gives us a compliment: “This was a nice and open hearted afternoon”.
Andre emotional while watching a video of the Nagasaki choir brought to him by the Japanese crew
who came to interview him. In the end he waved to the kids and said they would meet again soon.
This was before the invitation for the choir to come sing at Andre's Christmas show.
Picture with the article
Since I respect Marjorie's wish
to not have her picture
published I blanked out her