And Tomorrow, Just Like Always,
To The Local Grocers!!

André Rieu, the charming violinist from Maastricht, celebrates this year his 60th birthday and starts his 30th year on stage. In those thirty years, a lot has happened. He is adored throughout the world, but in spite of everything, he remains himself. He gave “Margriet” (weekly womens magazine) an exclusive interview.

The reason why André Rieu said yes to this interview? “We read Margriet at home when I was younger. And as a young boy I always read a serial about a lady with a French name. OK, what was her name again?”
This interviewer had to dig deep into her history banks. A serial in the sixties about a lady with a French name ...
“You know, she had red hair”. All of the sudden, a light went on: “Angelique!” “Yes, exactly, that’s who I mean, Angelique. Ah, those were the days, with
Angelique, a jewel of an angel not only in those romantic movies, but also in her adventures in the Margriet”. Romance at its best.

It is not a coincidence that André Rieu remembers her so well. He, who says André Rieu, will immediately see before him castles in a royal atmosphere, rustling dresses, beautiful violin music in ballrooms and of course “Love”. Romance with a capital “R” But to sell romance takes a lot of hard work, just take a peek at
http://www.andrerieu.com/, and look at his intense concert schedule: the day before yesterday Karlsruhe, yesterday Oberhausen, the day after tomorrow Munich……We feel a little guilty that we now on this sunny Friday afternoon, are taking up a few of his precious hours in his home in Maastricht. “Oh, that is OK” he says, toning it down, while coffee and vlaai (Limburg pastry) are being placed on the table. “The only thing I have to do on concert days is to step on the bus and play, everything else has been perfectly organized”.

This has undoubtedly been asked a thousand times: What explains the success of André Rieu?
“But it remains difficult to answer that question. I think it is a combination of me, the music we play and the manner in which we play. My music touches your heart. What we play during a concert, my wife Marjorie and I determine that. I think that is a very important explanation of my success”.

So it is a question of knowing exactly what people like?
“Yes, what I like, the majority of my public likes. Instinctively I know after a couple of bars whether a piece of music is good or not. My criteria: people are becoming happy or are being touched. An in between does not exist, it has to bring the emotions to the surface”. He laughs. “Actually, it is relatively simple when I explain it this way”.

I have seen a few episodes of the road soap to Australia. I did not really know what I was seeing, so many people crying because they were so happy. Radiantly: Yes, yes, fantastic wasn’t it?

What does that do to you?
“That touches me. Of course. Then I think to myself: See, it is working. To touch all these people so emotionally, yes, that’s why I do this”.

You erect a complete Sissi-castle, complete with ball gowns and horse drawn carriages. Entertainment must be a very important part in your concerts.
I am always annoyed at the attitude in the world regarding classical music: we are not going to entertain, are we? Why not? Sometimes I am frowned upon. But I like it. And the people do too”.

Due to the enormity of your concerts, you do take an enormous financial risk. Aren’t you afraid that your instincts could leave you hanging?
“No, I am 59 years old, and I have been so very lucky in my life. My greatest happiness was when I met my wife, whom I have been married to for nearly 35 years, and we have two sons, with which I am very happy. I have also been lucky in my work. Not long ago, someone from the bank sat here at this table. To help me, really!! OK, I have of course a good reputation, and the managers know that I can be trusted, that I am a serious individual, and that the bank again wanted to invest in me, you can call that lucky too, I guess. It is not an amount that can just be provided by the bank around the corner, if you get my drift. It is nice of them to do this and especially during these times. I am proud of that. There have been people that I have met in my life and I thought: “Why now at this time? I did not need that push now”.

Has your phenomenal success changed you?
“I do not think so. What has changed is that I do not do a lot of things myself any more. In previous times I would decorate the Johann Strauss Orchestra chairs myself, and I would hammer the music stands together. I also sewed the first ball gowns together. But I don’t do that anymore”.

What are you saying now, that you previously sewed the gowns yourself?
“Well yes, in the beginning I almost always made the gowns myself. I chose the models and with the then seamstress, I went into town to choose the materials. The chair decorating I did myself. In earlier days I sewed my own shirts. I can do a lot, I can built and remodel real well, but do not do that anymore. Too risky for a violinist.

You are adored by the public. Is it difficult to come back down to earth again after a wonderful concert?
“No…..Last night we performed in Oberhausen. When I returned home, Marjorie asked, “How was everything?” “Splendid” I would answer. What a fun way to earn your money. The people are so happy with what we bring them that evening. Yes, I am then being adored. But the next day I just go as always to the local grocers to buy a kilo (2.2lbs) sugar, or something”.

You can still go out?
“Sure. The fact that I am no longer anonymous, I do not find annoying. It is really fun when you are being recognized at an airport, and given priority through security. I am very honest in that. You can always view your notoriety as
something positive. OK, there are a few pesky fans who think that I am their property. That is not so nice. But the other thirty million are not like that, so it is not so bad. When I walk through Maastricht, I am hardly noticed: Hey, he is in town again. It is really just the tourists who speak to me. And yes, sometimes there are fans at the door, OK; that is the impact of being famous. Does that make me want to float and think I am something special? No, not at all. What might come into play is that I am someone who is very interested in life and the question arises: Why are we here? That could be a reason to keep your feet firmly planted on earth”.

That sounds philosophical.
“Maybe. Although I would rather call it being realistic. But, what is fame? It is a phenomenon. OK, so I appear on TV and people recognize me. That does not change me in the way of: I feel that I am better than someone else”.

Has your life always been in an ascending way, or has it given you blows which made you so perspective?
“No, I have always been this way. I can remember as a small boy, I could look at a plant and think: If I could crawl into that, I could wind up in an atom, and then I could go on and on……So, as a small boy I decided that there could be no question as to one universe. The word “indefinite” implies that there is more than one. So also other forms of life. The conclusion is as simple as can be. I saw the relativity of things at an early age. Difficult to understand, maybe. Here, is here and now. But there is so much more. I am sure of that.

How does that compare to your religion?
“Of course I was brought up Catholic, as is the custom here in the south. Not too strict though. In kindergarten I can remember the paper triangle that was displayed above the door—every Catholic knows immediately what I mean—the all Seeing Eye. I was never afraid of it, although I found it quite interesting. I just thought: a piece of paper cannot see anything. But I know people who suffered greatly because of that. When Marjorie and I started dating, we caught up on our puberty in three weeks. Because of our upbringing we were not really afforded the opportunity. We also reflected back on our religions. We decided that we ourselves had to accept our own responsibilities for our lives here on earth and try to make it a heaven here on earth. Of course everyone has to decide for themselves if they want to believe in something. You are allowed to believe in what you want. Through the huge respect I have for the people around me, I try to make something out of it.

The fact that you and your wife had to catch up on your puberty, did that have anything to do with the repression of your faith?
“No, that had everything to do because of our fathers. My father was a conductor, and at home too, if you know what I mean. With Marjorie, there was a similar kind of upbringing. Her German father had fled the country of his birth because of the war. With all the complication that went along with that. We understood each other and together we caught up on a few things. We tracked through the Netherlands for a few weeks. I can still see us walking along, both of us with long hair and each with earrings. When entering a store we would be addressed with: “What would you ladies like?” He laughs heartily.

You have been married to Marjorie for 35 years. A childhood love I assume.
“Yes, Marjorie was in the same class as one of my sisters’. There was a Sinterklaas (Dutch St. Nicholas) party at our house. There were a lot of girls there, but one I thought was very nice, Marjorie. The feeling was mutual. She was thirteen and I was eleven. At that particular age we did not have steady contact, but we did see one another occasionally when she used to come by”.

What attracted you to her?
“Marjorie has a very special face. Now a days when I look at all those models, they all look the same….All they do is photos, shopping and do augmentation surgery. I think that is a pity, all your facial features are removed. While I like the differences so much”.

To what do you contribute the fact that you have been together for 35 years?
“Because I am gone on tour so frequently, ha ha. No, not at all, that’s not it. And I would not want to call it a sailor’s marriage either. Rubbish. When I am gone it is only for a short period of time. We both feel it is very important to respect one another. For instance: when we were married I told Marjorie that I did not like to clean. Neither do I she said. No argument. We simply hired a cleaning lady. Not for a moment did I think that that was Marjorie’s job, simply because she is a woman. But you will be surprised how many intellectual individuals start saying after a few glasses of wine that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Unimaginable, even now. I always say: “Marjorie never speaks about emancipation. Marjorie is emancipation”. Even though she does not show it, I
know of no other more emancipated woman than Marjorie”.

Is she the brains in the business?
“No, that is putting it a little too strong. We do everything together. Although I must say, that the big financial risks I sometimes take with my concert tours are entirely mine. When I was copying the Schoenbrunn castle she asked me:” Do you have to do that? Isn’t that way too expensive? The people will come regardless”. Looking back now, it turned out to be a very positive move, since the castle generated enormous publicity worldwide. Everyone was talking about it. That was thanks to my business instincts”.

What is the reason that Marjorie remains so consistently invisible from all the publicity?
“That was a very conscious decision on both our parts, which we made a long time ago. I think at one time there was a picture of us both in one of those scandal sheets, and when we saw that we said: “We do not want this anymore”. The reason is that Marjorie wants to remain anonymous. I mean anonymous with the larger public. Around here the people do know who she is. She loathes people who all of the sudden recognize her and say: “Oh that is André Rieu’s wife, and then start acting differently”.

You are successful, you look healthy, and a romantic aura surrounds you. I think lots of women fall in love with you.
With a huge grin: “I do not do a thing to cause that”. It probably has something
to do in the manner in which I play the violin, which does look romantic. I have several fans that follow me all over the world, and when I see how much money they spend, maybe they see something more in me than I”. Otherwise I barely notice. They know there can never be anything more, and maybe that makes the infatuation so appealing”. Oh well, every one falls in love sometimes, but you can continue playing the game, or bring it to a halt in time.

You can put a stop to it anytime?
“Yes, of course. Listen, I am only a man. I like to look at someone pretty. But what use does it have? Infatuation is something totally different than having a real relationship with someone. Infatuation is a condition; it has nothing to do with reality. Imagine if I had married my former school love, which could have turned into pure misery”.

Why does Marjorie fit so well with you?
“That is a good question. I knew from early on that I wanted to marry a girl with which I could literally do everything together. That is Marjorie. Intuitively I knew it was her”.

With all your busy work schedules, do you have enough time to spend with your family?
“Precisely! When my boys were small, I played in the Limburg Symphony Orchestra and due to my work schedule that was the ideal job for a young father. I could take the children to school, and often pick them up again, with or without Marjorie. I was always the only father hanging around the school. The only father, who with the cut and paste evenings of Sinterklaas and Christmas presents was in school to help out. The real break through was with the “Second Waltz”, fifteen years ago, when the boys were fifteen and thirteen”.

Your son Pierre, in the meantime is also employed with you.
Proud: “Pierre in the meantime has become “Vice President of The Company”. Marc is not in the business; he studied art history and is an artist”.

What of yourself do you see in your sons?
“Their persistence. They are very nice, I feel. They are real nice boys with a huge heart. That is an important trait to have in order to be happy. I once read somewhere that Indians consciously teach their children to share. Sharing is a great thing. People often do not believe me when I say that I do not do this work for the money. If I was doing it for the money, I would never have built that castle. And to keep everything under my own control, including the financial risks? I don’t think so; I could have turned the whole thing over to Joop van den Ende (Dutch entrepreneur)”.

Neither of your sons play the violin, correct?
“I have tried it, but when Pierre broke his little violin over Marc’s head, I knew it was futile. Both are very musically inclined. Pierre has recently been spending a lot of time on his trumpet studies, so who knows”.

Do you still have dreams?

“Oh yes, so many. I wanted to travel the world with my own orchestra and make music, so actually I already live a dream. My dream was to bring people together with my music and that has become a reality. Wherever I play, everyone dances along, even the security people, because aggression cannot be found during my concerts. In Australia I came up with a fantastic idea. Since New Year’s happens there first, I want to organize the largest New Year’s ball in the world in Sydney. My biggest dream is to be able to play for a long time to come. And that will happen. Because I will live to be 120”.

How do you intend to achieve that?
“To just put my mind to it. I am not the only who thinks this way. Of course, every one lives longer now due to better health care: in the past you thought that 70 was old! That idea has been scrapped in my head several times. I feel like I am thirty. It is not only important to think: I will live to 120, but you have to really convince yourself. Science has come so far now that we are almost close enough to be able to influence our genes. Just a little longer, and we’ll be able to live to be one thousand. I do not think I will see that, but I will become 120. I am convinced of that. I am incurably positive”.

Interview by: Heleen Spanjaard

André Léon Marie Nicolas Rieu (Maastricht 1949) started his career after his studies at the conservatory as second violinist in the Limburg Symphony Orchestra. During this time, he organized the five man strong Maastricht Salon Orchestra, which became so successful that in 1987 he expanded it into his now world renowned Johann Strauss Orchestra. His big break through came in 1994 with the “Second Waltz” composed by Sjostakovits. André Rieu’s mission is to make classical music available to a broad range of people, in which he is more than successful. In that he invests a lot of time and money. For his last concert tour, he built an enormous décor, a replica of the Austrian Castle Schoenbrunn (the Sissi palace) which cost him two to three million Euros. For the international tour in Australia, he had one more copy built. Rieu can call himself one of the Netherland’s greatest exports. He recently won the Burma Export prize for the fourth time. After his tour, A Romantic Night in Vienna, of which the TROS (Dutch TV) did a docu soap, Rieu had 8 out of the top 10 spots in the Australian DVD top 10 charts. His CD sales are around 27 million copies sold. The violinist/orchestra leader, who possesses a priceless Stradivarius dating back to 1667, has about 130 full time employees. During his concert tours, this number can easily increase to about 500. His annual turnover is more than 30 million Euros. This year he and his orchestra will tour in Japan, the United States, Canada and Australia. There are also plans to conquer South America. André Rieu has been married for almost 35 years to his wife Marjorie,
and together they have two sons, Marc (30) and Pierre (27).

Thank You to John for Translating this for us.
This was a long one and he worked hard on it!

Pierre and Marc Rieu

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