The sensitive violinist
My Life, my music, my dreams
Super-Illu, Online 2001. Interview with the Stars
He inspires millions and fascinates many women. Here he tells the truth about his marriage and why he
wants to live to be a 120 years old. In Maastricht, where he was born in 1949, he lives with his family in a
villa next to his castle on the bank of the Maas River.
Mr. Rieu you lead a large orchestra, you inspire millions with your music. Are you a disciplined
Actually, yes I am, even when I am not on tour, I get up between 6:30 and 7:00 AM every morning.
How do you start your day?
Always with music. My wife Marjorie and I listen to what I have recorded in the studio. I am always dying
to hear what her reaction is.
The opinion of your wife is important?
Yes, very much so. If Marjorie sings along with the new piece of music then I know the music is good.
However if she stays silent I know something is not quite the way it should be. She is almost always right.
Marjorie seems to determine your life. What does she mean to you?
Everything, simply everything. I always say, if she had not been there I would have probably ended up in
the gutter. Marjorie was and is my catalyst.
How did you meet each other?
That was in 1962. She was in the same class as my sister. She was 15, I was 13. I fall for more mature
women. (Laughs) Marjorie always had that certain something which made her attractive to me. When we
met again later as young adults, the spark jumped over immediately. We sensed that we belonged
What is that certain something which fascinates you in such a way?
I do not exactly know, even after so many years. It is a mysterious union until today.
And that love does not suffer, with you on the road so often?
It is surely difficult. Since we both actually live two different lives, one independent from each other and
one together, we both must have our own tasks, with which we identify. We understand that perfectly well
and we both experience our moments of happiness. We have to give each other space and not see each
other as a possession. That way the marriage stays young and fresh. In addition we have always worked
hard together, long before my success exploded. Now I am six month a year away from home on tour and
with other obligations.
Success makes many people envious. You are not protected against that either. What then is
true about the rumors that you have bought a house in Hamburg, so you can be close to your
lover and German manager Petra Heimberg?
Well, to finally set this thing straight. I love Hamburg; it is a city full of life. Petra Heimberg has never
been my lover and she has not worked for me in over a year. These rumors come with show business
and I can live with that.
And your wife Marjorie?
She knows everything. For example when I went with Petra to the Echo awards, I first asked Marjorie if it
was okay with her. She herself avoids the publicity. The consequence however is that if I am seen with
the same woman more than twice, they immediately say that we are having a affair. Marjorie can really
only smile about that. She knows that it goes with my profession.
She has never said:“Andre, I have heard or read something, and we need to talk about it.
Never, we trust each other completely. That is the basis of our love, and the basis of my success.
You keep no secrets from your wife and your children?
No, I cannot lie. Everything shows on my face. Anger, disappointment, joy, happiness. Everyone always
says to me when they look at me they can see what I think.
If some day your wife would say: Listen, I have someone else?
That would be the end of me. I would die. I do not want to think about that at all. I would not want to live
anymore. That would be the only reason not to get old.
Would you marry Marjorie again?
A difficult question, but I am already thinking about it. We looked and found each other. Many boys have
courted Marjorie but she decided to go for Andre, because he had something different than all the others.
Marjorie's father is originally from Berlin, in the thirties he immigrated to Maastricht. Do you
know his roots?
Well, I was in Neukolln und in Treptow, but both houses in which he lived are no longer standing. He and
his wife had a large collection of records, which Marjorie helped them choose. She brought this collection
of music into our marriage. She knows all the melodies of the 20s by heart. I grew up exclusively with
classical music, and was pleasantly surprised by the melodies of Paul Lincke and the songs of Sarah
Leanders. Because of this I started to play lighter music with my Salon Orchestra. It fits better by my
personality. Marjorie and I then looked for music of the 20's by placing an advertisement. We received
thousands of pieces of sheet music. We sorted everything and Marjorie then decided what I should play
and what not. I can trust her blindly.
Do you still have her cut your hair?
Sometimes, in the meantime I can do it myself. I had to learn it, because Marjorie is often in Maastricht
when I am on the road.
You can certainly afford a barber.
I hate it when a stranger fiddles with my hair!!! Besides my head is shaped like an egg and thank god that
is not as noticeable with the long hair.
How many suits (tails) do you own?
No. Marjorie and I design those suits. I select the material. A seamstress comes to our house in
Maastricht, takes my measurements and sews the suits. When I am on tour I always take eight suits with
No, all the same. When I perform on stage, I sweat and I have to change suits during a concert. That is
Your musicians wear costumes too.
Yes, the musicians all have four sets as their stage wardrobe. That applies to everybody. There is by the
way a nice story to the stage wardrobe of my female musicians,
Okay, let's hear it.
Gladly. The dresses of my musicians are made by two young women. They had shown me their designs
and I had liked them. I said to them: I need 130 dresses like these and I need them in three months. Can
you manage that?
And did they succeed with that project?
The young ladies nodded, hired nine other dressmakers and worked it as piecework. All dresses were
finished in time. In the meantime these two have started their own company. André Rieu creates jobs in
Maastricht. Now that is a beautiful feeling.
Besides Marjorie, your brother Jean-Philippe also works for you. Are you building a family
He has worked for me for the past two years. We have a fantastic relationship. When we were children
we did not get along that well, he is eight years younger than I am. At the time he broke everything and
that annoyed me tremendously. Today we compose music together. On my new CD is our composition
“Ballade. Above all he works as my director. He puts my music into pictures more skillfully than anyone
has been able to. He feels exactly the same as I do and he senses the pictures I have in my head.
Do your children also work for you?
Marc is 23 and he studies art history. He collects film music and in quiet moments he likes to listen to
classical music. Pierre has just passed his entrance exam and will study law. He would like to work for
our company later. Since he was small he has often gone on tour with us during vacations. He has
helped with building the stage and has worked the lights. When he was ten he played the music at a party
and after ten minutes everyone was dancing the polonaise, He can get the public going. In a few years
he can take care of my contracts.
Does it bother you that neither has learned to play an instrument?
I have given both violin lessons, but I did not want to force them. Marc always got a tummy ache when he
had to play, and it would get worse every time. Then when little Pierre came and hit him over the head
with the violin, that was the end of the violin playing career of my sons.
How is it, when you go through town with the two of them?
Fantastic, then the girls always say“look there go the three Rieus. That is fun. They have a very close
relationship with me, they talk to me about their problems, the same as with Marjorie. We are a unit and
that will always stay that way.
You have five brothers and sisters. Do you see them often?
We used to see each other frequently and those are beautiful memories. But we are not so family
minded. My brothers and sisters are all married, have children and except for Jean-Philippe do not live
close to Maastricht. But it is correct that we should make more time for each other again.
Does it ever give problems to work together with your brother?
We off course have differences of opinion sometimes, but in the end my will is wet. I am also older and
besides that I am always right. (Laughs) Maybe wisdom comes with the years and I will be wise when I am
a hundred but I will never become old.
Do you sometimes think about stopping?
I never want to stop. When for instance I would go on a long vacation I immediately would get sick. I am
actually only just starting. I bought a piece of land next to my recording studio. I want to built my own TV
studio there. I will even have my own camera team.
What are you planning?
Jean-Philippe and I want to record a large series of CD and DVDs of the entire classical period.
Excuse me? A flight of fancy?
Yes, of course. (Laughs heartily) I know, that is enormous, a life work. But I want to get a 120 years old,
so I still have 70 years. I am serious. In about nine months the construction will begin. So I will not have
any time to die for a long time yet.
What were the best and the worst times of your life?
The worst was the death of my father Andre Rieu Sr in 1992. My brothers, my mother and I sat at his
deathbed. My father had suffered a stroke and was paralyzed. He could nod and hear and suffered
greatly. That was terrible for him and for us. Such a painful slow death I would not wish on anybody. The
worst part of the situation was that we could do nothing for him and felt so helpless. We constantly lived
with deceptive hope that perhaps he would still get better.
And the best time?
Working in cooperation with Jean-Philippe. I know our father would have loved that. For the past two
years we have worked together. I am grateful for that every day.
What would you like on your tombstone?
No idea, I never really think about that. Death is so far away for me. I always do things completely
spontaneous. When I go onto the stage and Marjorie is in proximity. I always ask her What shall I say to
the audience?” I don't write the announcement texts, I always improvise that.
Do you still have stage fright?
We say it in this way. There is always excitement. I know my people on the stage well, but every time
there is always some new tension. We want to accomplish something together. It is always seems like a
And when afterwards the female fans scream hysterically and send letters with clear offers?
There are always be fans who see me as their property. But under all my fans maybe ten are like that.
Steffi Graf for example was pursued for many years by a crazed fan, who wanted to marry her and give
her a Porsche. It is terrible, but you have to learn to live with it in this business