Exclusive Interview by Iride Aparicio

Photos courtesy: André Rieu Productions

Andre Rieu

SAN JOSÉ CA.— Known as “The WALTZ KING”  Dutch violinist, conductor and composer ANDRÉ RIEU  is considered by many "The Best Violinist in the World,"  yet, the musical genius, who is handsome, rich, famous and talented is not ostentatious. He smiles often, has a keen sense of humor and his charisma emanates from him with the same ease as his melodies.

During his concerts,  RIEU can speak with his audience  in several languages: Dutch, German, French, Italian, English and Spanish, yet, his best communication stems from the strings of his 1667 Stradivarius violin, which speaks music, the universal language.

I must have been a baby when I first started  hearing music” Maestro RIEU tells CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL  in an exclusive interview before his arriving in San José for a single concert at the HP Pavilion on March 16th.  “I come from a very musical family. All my brothers and sisters played music in those days“

Here we could mention that the musical family's father, ANDRÉ RIEU Sr., was the  conductor of the Maastricht Symphony Orchestra in Maastricht, Holland, where he is from.

C.W.B. How old were you when you first started studying music?

A.R. “I started playing the violin when I was five. I remember very well because the violin was way too big for me.

C.W.B. What attracted you to the violin?

A.R.  “I am not sure if I selected the violin.  It was put into my hands by my parents, but I liked it immediately.

C.W.B. Did you enjoy taking music lessons at that young age?

A.R. “Yes, I enjoyed my lessons very much. My teacher was young, blond and beautiful. I fell in love with my first violist teacher”

As he grew up, RIEU continued studying the violin  at the Conservatoire Royal in Liège and at the conservatory of Maastricht with outstanding teachers. He also  attended the Music Academy in Brussels receiving the “Premier Prix” degree  from the Brussels Royal Conservatory, which is given to the best student.

C.W.B. What did you want to do as a violinist?

A.R. “For as long as I remember, I always wanted to be a musician. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with it, but the moment I was on one of my dad’s concerts, when he was playing one of Johann Strauss’ famous waltzes and I saw what it did to the audience, I knew what I wanted: To let the world waltz.

C.W.B.  What is music for you?

A.R. “To me, music is like air. I could not live without music.

C.W.B. Do you like all types of music?

A.R. “In my eyes, there is no “good” or “bad” music, all I know is that music that “touches my heart” will touch my fans' hearts and that is what I play.”

C.W.B.  When, in your opinion, did you become professional?

A.R. “That is hard to answer. I think I became professional when I succeeded at the conservatory (graduated). But I first felt professional when I gave my first concert with my five piece orchestra.

C.W.B. When you named your orchestra JOHANN STRAUSS ORCHESTRA, were you trying to become another JOHANN STRAUSS?

A.R. “Being him is impossible. The man (Strauss)  was a genius, I am just a simple violinist, but he was my example."

Named after the Austrian composer of waltzes JOHANN STRAUSS ( I825-99), ANDRÉ RIEU’s orchestra began with 12 members in l987. Now it has between 80 to 150 musicians of extraordinary musical quality including dancers and singers who play with him as he conducts them or plays solos in his violin producing clean lyrical melodies.

The   repertoire of the music the orchestra plays is varied. It includes classical and popular music from around the world and a Viennese popular and classical repertoire of Waltzes. 

ANDRÉ RIEU  (center)  with his singers and orchestra
 ANDRÉ RIEU  (center)  with his singers and orchestra

 C.W.B. In your long career, traveling around the world, what have you learned about people?

A.R. “Again, hard to answer in a couple of words, but let me put it like this. All people are different, but when it comes to music, there is one rule: when people open their hearts, and come to my concerts, they are going to have a great evening. I know that for young kids it is not often “cool” to enjoy or even listen to my music.  I personally find this a pity as I see so many young people all over the world in my concerts having the time of their life.  But for me, every night is different. Even when I play in the same city, every night is different.’

ANDRE RIEU during a Xmas concert is Maastricht his home town
ANDRE RIEU during a Xmas concert is Maastricht his home town

C.W.B.  What made you decide to come to Silicon Valley?

A.R. It has been a long time since we have performed there so I was looking forward to do it again.  I have nothing but wonderful memories of our last concert there.”

C.W.B.  Is there something you would like to share with CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL readers?

A.R. “Culture is one of the most important things in life.  Prime Minister Churchill raised the amount of subsidy for Culture during world war two . He received large criticism on this and his answer was: What else are we fighting for? He could not be more right than this. Take away the culture of a land and the land is gone.

 C.W.B.  How do you describe yourself?

A.R. “As a simple violinist who would be laying in the gutter if it was not for the help of my wife."

C.W.B. Could you elaborate in what you just said?

A. R. “What I just said is not a saying for me.  I really think I would be nowhere without her (his wife). She is my everything. We do everything together. We did everything together, right from the start, and she is the one who gives me the extra push when I need it.  She is marvelous. We have been married for 35 five years and we still enjoy each other. I cannot imagine life with a woman at home or by my side who does not support me or back me up, help me and even warns me when I am working too hard. Marjorie (his wife) almost never travels with me because she hates to travel but she writes my texts at home and runs the company (ANDRÉ RIEU PRODUCTIONS) from there. When I am on tour, We call each other about ten times every day. She is my biggest secret to my success.”

Maestro ANDRE RIEU CONCERT in Schonbrunn Vienna (2006)
   Maestro ANDRE RIEU CONCERT in Schonbrunn Vienna (2006)

ANDRÉ RIEU has a large discography and many videos of his different concerts.  During his career, he has also received many honors among them:                                                 


Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion (Netherlands, 2002)
Honorary Medal of the Province of Limburg (Netherland 2009)
Knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France, 2009

Yet what had made ANDRÉ RIEU so loved by his audience and so popular is that his live and recorded performances have brought joy and continue to bring joy  to millions of people around the world. Because of the WALTZ KING, the world is waltzing again.