André Rieu: When my wife drags me off the stage, I will stop!!

PRIVÉ July 3, 2012
André's first big interview after his illness ... The dizziness is still there.

Star violinist André Rieu, tells for the first time frankly about his illness and how he overcame his burn out. He emphasizes the important role his wife Marjorie played. He always fears that it will happen again, but he refuses to think of the end of his career. He was totally burned out and with possibilities of disastrous consequences for his big orchestra. He almost had to let the orchestra members go. Concerts, whole tours, had to be cancelled. An enormous financial disaster. But the maestro is back and he will play four concerts in Maastricht.

►How are you doing?
Great. We performed in Germany and Denmark to catch up with the postponed concerts. In the beginning I was very anxious, because I did not know how fit I really was. I was nervous. But every concert went better. I have lost six kilos by working out and I have a personal coach who supports me and watches me. I am 62 and it is important that I stay fit. I give so many concerts, that is top sport.

►You have a heavy schedule till the end of the year. Isn't that too heavy?
Maybe, but for me a tour is like a holiday. Everything is organized to details. I have a quiet breakfast in the morning, I am sporting, studying, and then have a rest till the concert starts.

►Was it necessary to lose weight?
Yes, I gained a lot of weight. I did not work out these past years and also I did not pay attention to what I ate. Now my weight is 80 kilos. The problem was, the kilos were assembled around my belly and the doctor said that is dangerous. That's why I work out every day now and I do body building. My trainer accompanies me also when I give concerts. He is a sportsman, but also a food expert.

►What does your diet look like?
Less carbohydrates, only whole meal bread and lean meat. No sweets at all and I am very fond of pastry and desserts. It's a pity, but it's the past. I still drink a glass of good wine, but not every night any more. When I fell ill, I was entirely checked in the hospital. I am not ill, but the attacks of dizziness will always remain. My body was too weak and it gives me signs as soon as I am working too hard.

►Do you fear a repeat?
Sure. I was ill twice now and I hope to avoid it for a third time. Music is my life. The best of my life is conducting my orchestra. I don't want to take the risk of getting ill for a third time. I do everything to avoid that.

►Is it caused by troublesome Tinnitus?
In 2010 I had a virus on my equilibrium, which caused balance disorders. The last time I was entirely overworked. They call that a burn out. Once you have had Tinnitus, it will always remain a weak spot. When I was overtired, I got balance disorders again.

►To suffer from Tinnitus must be terrible for a musician.
Yes, but fortunately I can hear very sharp. I have no medication, I just sport and rest, that is sufficient.

►Does your wife Marjorie join you on tours?
Only on European tours. She has a fear of flying, so she will not be in Brazil.

►What did she mean to you when you were ill? Was she able to support you?
She supported me every moment. I was home and from the very beginning she said: "Whatever happens, we love you". But I am disciplined and have an iron will. I am demanding to people around me, but also to myself. Also when it comes to my health.

►Did Marjorie have a vote in taking a personal coach?
No, that was not necessary. I did that myself. Something had to happen. I had to switch a button and start up again. Her unconditional love helped me a lot, her all time support.

►Does it also mean a change in her way of cooking?
Actually I cook more often than Marjorie, especially Italian food. I make pizzas myself and also Dutch food. In the winter I prefer the endives stew, but I can also cook more refined dishes.

►Did your sons help you with your recovery?
Oh, yes, for sure. They took things over and supported me. That's why I could rest. They were very concerned about me. Nobody had a clue how long it would last. But finally I cured quite soon.

►Do you feel more secure with your personal coach around?
Certainly yes. He immediately recognizes signals when something seems to go wrong.

►Which is the country you look forward to most of all?
Brazil. I have a lot of fans there. I lived there for six months, so I am familiar with the country. I also love New York and Sydney. But I love Maastricht above all. It's my home, I was born there and probably I will die there. I never go on holiday. On my days off I prefer to sit in my garden with Marjorie.

►It is claimed that you have a fairy tale marriage. Is that true?
In a certain way, yes. People might ask how it is possible since I am gone so much. but I think because of that it works so well. We call each other five or six times a day, sometimes even ten times. We discuss everything. I am convinced that communication is the most important thing in a relation. We communicate excellent!

►Is Marjorie never jealous on all those girls lying to your feet?
No, she trusts me and she knows it's all part of the show. She does not like to be in the public, she does not like red carpets. I am no party-animal either.

►I bet you can sometimes find women in front of your hotel room.
Oh yes, but I leave them there. After a concert I need my rest and I only drink a glass of wine with the orchestra. Afterwards I go to bed, to stay fit.

►Did you ever find a woman in your hotel bed, passionately waiting for you?
No, I have not yet experienced such a thing. We have a lot of security people around, so that will never happen. Of course I enjoy when women like me, without my fans I would be nothing. I realize that very well. But my wife and I have been together for such a long time. We know each other very well and she knows that I am faithful to her.

►Have you ever been threatened by fans?
No, most of my fans are involved with music. Very seldom one is misbehaving. Once I was followed to my house, but my security men accompanied me until I drove into my parking garage, and that was it.

►What is the secret of your fantastic marriage?
Love and respect. We have never lost the respect for each other. Not only do we live as man and wife, we also have a business and work together. We make the concert program, we think about matching guests for the encores. When I am on tour and Marjorie does not join us, she works at the office to keep things going. We are a great team, whether we walk the dog in the morning (yes, in the article is "dog" in singular!), we work together at the office, or we are cooking together. Our son Pierre lives two houses next to us and I go there for a short visit every day to see the granddaughters. They are the sunshine of our house. Marjorie and I love being grandparents.

►Has there never been a crisis in all those years?
No. Of course we sometimes have an issue, like every couple has. But from me, no bad word about my wife, she is my better half. She is the strong woman behind me and my success. Without her I would have been nothing and probably be on the streets.

►Why on the streets?
When I started a long time ago, I played in a salon orchestra. Marjorie knew that I wished to have an orchestra of my own, but we had no money at all. She said: "Okay, then I'll find a fulltime job and you try to make your dream come true". Times were tough, we had hardly any money, but she made me succeed to start my own orchestra. Only for this I'll love her forever!

►Could you imagine a life without performances?
No. I did not give myself any limitations. I'd like to become 120 years old and I'd like to continue until my wife will drag me off the stage. Until she says: "Now it's been enough. You look like crazy. Now it's done". This will only happen in the case that I cannot speak my speeches any more or I cannot play the violin any more. We know you should stop at the moment your career is still successful, for then you'll leave a legacy of nice memories.

►It is claimed that music has healing powers.
I am convinced of that. We receive a lot of letters by people in care centers. They thank us and tell that the music helped them. Even people who were in a coma, woke up by my music. A doctor in the USA purchased piles of my CDs and DVDs to play in the hospital where he worked. He determined that his patients became happier and healthier. Music effects the mind and the mind effects the body.

►Did someone thank you for having rescued his life?
More than once. They tell me such after the concerts. It is wonderful that music has such effects. There are unbelievable stories about the consolation music can give to people.

►Do you have an example?
There was a woman in Brussels who lived her last days. Her last wish was to attend a concert of mine. She was in a hospital bed and could watch the concert from the bed. After the concert I personally greeted her. She was so happy, she radiated joy. After a few days I got the message that she died. That touched me very much. We try to cooperate with institutions like "Make a wish", but of course we cannot fulfill every wish. The death of the Brussels woman touched me so much, that I also realized I could not cope with that too often. For me those emotions are too heavy a burden.

►It is hard to imagine André Rieu without a violin. Would you like to take your instrument on you final journey?
No, I won't. The violin is very important to me and I feel honored being able to play a Stradivarius, but I see myself as a caretaker of the violin, to pass it on to another talent later. Most important in my life is not my violin, but my family, they come first.

►Who is going to inherit your violin?
That is not yet determined. My first Stradi I gave to an Asian girl, a big talent!

►What would be written on your burial stone?
That is hard to say. My motto for life is: "Don't dream your life, but live your dream".

►You were in financial problems due to your burn out. How is the situation now?
At the end of 2008 we still were in debt. But 2009 and 2010 were fantastic years and everything is okay now. At the time we had to sell a lot of stuff, but now we are out of the problems.

►If you could make a wish, what would you wish?
Health, love and happiness for all of my family.

►Would you like to be young again?
No, I am happy as I am. Of course I hope my health will continue. Success is for me is really of less importance.

►What were the toughest moments of your life?
My depressions touched me very much. They changed me. Now I can better delegate. I don't want to do anything by myself any more. Pierre took over a lot. I realize that I need more moments of rest. And nowadays I am taking these moments of rest.

►Do you have a dream for the future?
Yes, that everything will go on the way it is ...

Thank you to Ineke for her Translation of this Article!