Without Marjorie I would have ended up in the gutter
André Rieu: "I find it more difficult having missed a grandchild's birthday than having lost 30 million."
"I feel fantastic! And I really look forward to the summer concert later on the Vrijthof in Maastricht."
Excellent! Because twice you had to take a long time off due to exhaustion and a virus infection. There were no earnings while the salaries of your 60 man orchestra continued to be paid. Are you now taking better care of yourself?
"My doctor warned me all the time that what I was doing is compared to top sports. And accordingly the somber life of a top athlete goes along with that." Looking back I can say that he was right." After I had been ill so long for the second time, he advised me to start working out with a personal trainer and have him direct me so I remain in better shape. I have been doing that ever since and it suits me really well. My personal trainer gives me nutritional advice and under his direction I work out three times a week. I do both strength training and cardio workouts and feel very fit, fitter than ever!"
Almost 40 years ago you were happy if you could play for a wedding somewhere with your 5 man orchestra. Now you play with your 60 person Johann Strauss Orchestra for hundreds of thousands of people in sold out stadiums over the entire world - and you live in a 17 century castle...Quite a difference!
"Yes, sometimes I do think back to those beginning days. Although our public was much smaller we were always successful and performed with pleasure. But through this big difference I have learned that a person can achieve much more than he thinks he can. You only need a bit of courage for that!"
Which do you regret more: the loss of 34 million on a much too expensive traveling decor including a palace, expensive dresses, fountains and a golden carriage? Or that you missed the birthday of one of your grandchildren because you were on tour somewhere?
"The latter of course! I have never regretted the monies I lost. Even though it was many millions. It was really sad and if I had gone bankrupt (André was indebted to the bank by 12 million in 2010) it would have been really sad. But with hard work I earned those monies back again, and then you just forget those things, no matter how strange that might sound. Totally different then with my grandchildren, because I will never forget them, no matter where in the world I am. That is why I grab every chance I get with both hands to spend time with my grandchildren - because that is really the most beautiful thing there is! My wife Marjorie and I now have five and I love them to pieces."
You have a family business. Your son Pierre is vice-president of the Rieu family business. What is it like to work together as father and son?
"It is fantastic. We know one another through and through, trust each other 100% and respect each other's qualities and ideas. And if we sometimes disagree with each other, we can just quietly discuss it in a "Rieu" manner without it leading to an immediate confrontation or irritation."
It is often said that behind every successful man a strong woman stands. Which roll does your wife fulfill in you?
"I have to be honest. Marjorie is everything to me. Without her the entire business would not exists, I would never have ventured out and taken the step myself. Marjorie and I do literally everything together. We produce the repertoire for concerts, CD's and specials together. We write the texts and also lead our company together. Really, if she had not been here, I would have ended up in the gutter!"
Huge artists like Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber are often involved with groupies. How do you handle them when away from home? Do you then show them your wedding ring?
"Oh, honestly, they really do not bother me that much. Most of the people know very well that I am happily married and do not sit and wait for advances from strange women. Besides, I do not wear a wedding ring, it interferes with my violin playing! Even without a wedding ring, I am still very happily married!"
After 40 years of marriage, do you every now and then still play very romantically a love song for Marjorie on your violin?
"Not real love songs, but there are certain pieces she loves to hear me play and I play those with pleasure for her."
You have achieved so much in your career. What wishes do you still have?
"We are busy with preparations for a huge tour with our orchestra through the US and Canada including a TV campaign there. It would be great if we would succeed, because I really do like to play in America. The audience is incredibly fun and spontaneous. (Woo-Hoo!)
And to perform on the moon? Well, if the opportunity ever arises, I would like to be the first. But no matter how big my plans and dreams might be, my wife, my children and grandchildren are more important to me than any performance whatsoever!"
Thanks to Ineke for the article and John's translation