By Jan-Jaap de Kloet HilversumDecember 29, 2008 The Telegraph
In a furious tempo, André Rieu travels the world over, he sells hundreds of thousands of CD’s and DVD’s in almost every continent and after a five week tour in Australia he does not even take the time to relax at home. No, it is immediately in the plane to Amsterdam to visit the radio and television studio’s in order to talk about amongst others, his adventures. The music is what has kept him enthusiastic for almost thirty years.
With almost 700,000 attendees worldwide, the sympathetic Maastricht citizen (59) is one of the most sought after artist in the past 12 months. What exactly his secret is, he does not know himself. It sounds kind of vague but, "Maybe I feel what the people like."
What I do know is that I do not do anything complicated with classical music. I transfer a concert into a nice evening in a manner which is easily accessible. And I play what I like and I support that 100%. I do not pull any stunts. And that apparently is what the people notice. Apparently it is pleasing".
Looking back, the violinist from the southern part of the country, hails 2008 as an exciting year. Exactly one year ago he started his World Stadium Tour in the Rodgers Center in the Canadian City of Toronto as the world premier. A true copy of the Viennese Schönbrunn Palace complete with a one- on- one scale copy of its famous ballroom, and two ice rinks on which world champions could show their skills during the concerts.
The décor did cost Rieu a bundle, but the troubles started when the trip to Australia was accepted. The TÜV, (the German Department of Environment Health and Safety) rejected the décor for open air concerts. The stadium in Canada is covered and on that we had based our calculations. With an open roof where wind and rain can have an effect on the décor, well ... we just did not take those matters into consideration.
Looking at it from a public standpoint, Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra had a banner year. Financially not so. "I have very little left. I had to promise the bank never to do that again". And to cancel was not an option. I could not let the fans down. I look at it as an investment in marketing. Every one now talks about us. And I have to add that those weeks in Australia were really fantastic. But for 2010 I have given the orders to place all covered stadiums in a row.
He is less enthusiastic about Canada. "Not because of the public, they were also furiously enthusiastic". But the goings on behind the scenes with the unions, the technical shortcomings were just appalling. Because of the experience in Canada, Rieu decided to permanently add three generators for electrical power. "I almost had a coronary when half an hour before the Toronto concert the electricity failed", says Pierre, André’s son. "We barely made it. That incident, the bad Canadian crew with whom I had to work with and also had for the entire night to disassemble the décor. It was just about too much for me".
Pierre completely collapsed upon his return to the Netherlands. "I noticed that nothing was affecting me. I returned home just before Christmas, but it did not faze me at all. My emotions were gone. I was done. I discovered that I too, was only human."
André, the father, "Of course it also took me totally by surprise. I noticed that Pierre had been working way too hard. And that touched me very deeply. We have had several intense conversations about that. Those were emotional moments because they entailed everything in which we were involved. But it has strengthened and deepened our bond, which was already very good. We have grown even closer. Mainly because we keep no secrets from one another. We’ve learned a lot from it". That process was necessary to change the organization. For the nocturnal hours a team, on which Pierre can depend upon, has been hired. Rieu Jr. is still in charge, but can delegate matters much better now. In addition, he has also received a spot in the direction of the company around André. "Yes, I just found out about it myself" quipped Pierre who earlier this year on 18 October married his beloved Eefje in the castle of Dad André. "It was really nice".
Because of Pierre’s new position, André can concentrate more on his music and concerts. And new talents. In that respect, I am busy with my record company, "Universal Music" to fly under their flag and establish my own label "André Records". "With that I would like to publish music which I myself find interesting and nice. Maybe that might still have to be discovered and probably has been hidden underneath some stairs in Berlin for the last thirty years. "André’s Choice" seems to be a nice title. I would also like to give young talents a chance. People who love my concerts will buy my CD’s blindly anyway".
André Rieu conquers the world in his very own manner. Although there are still a few empty spots on his chart. "South America shows a lot of interest and of course we are working on that". Noticeably barely anything is going on in Great Britain. We did notice however that the people there have become more aware after the Australian success. This coming year, the Schönbrunn will be stored somewhere in the vicinity of Maastricht. It will only appear once in all its glory on 5 September in the ArenA in Amsterdam. "After that, no world tour. At least not for a while. But of course we will perform many concerts nationally as well as internationally.
"And yes, I have been in this business for thirty years. But for that, I will not stop in any given moment. I loathe the predetermined time for when we have to celebrate such an event. I am much more in favor for spontaneity. Just like after a concert. Than you can let everything go. That I enjoy much more.
Thank you Ruud, Ineke and John for sending this translated for us!