Profile: Andre Rieu, Conductor & Violinist
Every once in a century or so, an artist comes along who ignites a passion in his listeners. Someone who possesses an incredible musical talent and combines it with a charismatic ability to reach into the soul of his audience. An individual whose personality, energy, and enthusiasm have the power to move people to tears or compel them to get out of their chairs and start dancing in the aisles from pure delight. In this artist’s profile, we’ll examine the life and work of one of the most prolific performers and conductors of our time, Andre Rieu. A violinist that the global media has dubbed, “The Modern King of Waltz.”
Having sold over 40 million CDs and DVDs throughout the world, Dutch violinist Andre Rieu is well-known for his enthralling music and incredibly impressive stage performances. The 63-year-old performer has made a name for himself in the classical music genre by integrating his romanticism into every aspect of his work, with massive success. The following information has been garnered from Rieu’s press website, his personal website biography, and various interviews conducted with this master performer.
Born in 1949 in Maastricht, Netherlands, Andre Rieu was surrounded and immersed in classical music from birth. His father, a professional conductor, raised his children to embrace symphonies, chamber music, and opera classics. Rieu began his training on the violin at age five, but has said that his violin teacher was “so beautiful and so blond” that “instead of listening to her instructions,” he “stared at her all the time.”
However, he continued to study the violin, and in 1967 he began his training at the conservatoire in Liege, and later in Maastricht under Jo Juda and Herman Krebbers. In 1974 Rieu studied with Andre Gertier at the conservatoire in Brussels. His three-year training at that prestigious institution resulted in his earning his “Premier Prix” degree from the Royal Conservatory in Brussels.
In 1975, while still in school, Andre Rieu married his wife Marjorie, a lady he refers to as his “great love.” His son Marc was born in 1978 and another son, Pierre came along in 1981.
In 1978, Andre Rieu founded his first orchestral group, the Maastrict Salon Orchestra, which continued to perform with small personnel changes until 1987. It was then that he recruited his Johann Strauss Orchestra and founded the Andre Rieu Productions Company. The group began with 12 musicians, but now features from 43 to 50 talented performers.
From 1988 to 1994, Rieu and his orchestra were busy playing on tour and in other public concerts. But, in 1995 he received what he said was a turning point in his career. After performing “Second Waltz” from his “From Holland With Love” album, for the half-time interval at an international football match in Amsterdam Stadium, his exposure soared. When speaking of that time he said, “That year I sold more records in the Netherlands than Michael Jackson, all because of this one waltz.” See him perform it live in Maastricht, The Netherlands, as thousands of fans sway and twirl to the music.
Over the next ten years he would go on to record a number of albums and appear all over the world including, Japan, Canada, the US, and Europe. In 2006 he recorded a special performance at the Radio City Music Hall, in New York. Later, after performing for Queen Elizabeth II in 2009 and the Dutch Queen Beatrix in 2010, he began touring in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
Andre Rieu’s performances are an art unto themselves. Playing his Stradivarius violin, his concerts are designed to involve and enthrall the audience, but it is his amazing ability to evoke an emotional response with his music that has made him so famous. He personally approves all of the period costumes worn by the orchestra, and his live shows often include fountains, castles and ice rinks. Not surprisingly, these shows consistently sell out. As one of the world’s most successful touring musicians, his sizeable discography includes classical music, as well as folk, pop, and theater pieces.
Andre Rieu makes his home in Maastricht, living in a castle that is reported to have been where D’Artagnan had his last breakfast before being killed in battle serving Louis XIV. He is also an avid conservationist, who grows rare plants and does much to reclaim and save forests.
As a performer, Andre Rieu embraces his audiences, and perhaps because his enjoyment of music is real and he obviously wants to share it, the audience responds. Learn more about this gifted artist by visiting his websites or watching some of his performances. You’ll be very glad that you did.