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Nov 1, 2011

Why It Doesn't Matter What Critics Think About André Rieu

Why It Doesn't Matter What Critics Think About André Rieu

Billboard.biz: November 1, 2011: The man known as "the Waltz King" has sold more than 30 million CDs and DVDs globally, according to his record company. He had the seventh highest-grossing U.S. tour mid-year, netting $46,052,472 and filling 436,604 seats, according to Billboard Boxscore. Some would argue he's done more for orchestral music than the invention of the violin. And now Dutch conductor and violinist André Rieu releases his latest album, "And The Waltz Goes On" (Decca) on November 7 -- a disc featuring a specially written piece by Oscar-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins. 
Conducting his 43-strong Johan Strauss orchestra with his violin bow and rock-star demeanor, Rieu's energetic concerts (don't call them "shows" -- he gets cross) have wowed the world. And he's revived the much-mocked waltz form in the process.
He has had four Top 10 albums on the U.S Classical Crossover chart, charted 19 Top 10 albums on the Traditional Classical chart (including five number ones) and his total U.S. album sales equal 1.3 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan. He also had the highest-charting orchestral album ever in the U.K in 2010, with "Forever Vienna" (Decca). 
The waltz, says Rieu, is in his genes: "My father was a conductor and he would often play Strauss waltzes. I discovered that when he gave concerts the audience were quiet, almost scared to breathe. But when he played waltzes there was something in the air. They would smile and sometimes even hum." 
"The waltz is an attitude," he continues. "It's easy for classical orchestras to play Beethoven badly and get away with it. But when you play a waltz badly, it sounds rubbish." 
And as far as he's concerned, the form isn't paid the respect it deserves. "So often," he says, "it's seen as something to do in the last five minutes of a concert." But with a good waltz, he says, "there is melancholy and joy at the same time. It's a mirror of life. When you hear Shostakovich's second waltz it sounds like, 'give me another beer'." 
He appears to have an almost universal appeal. "My audience is everybody," Rieu claims, "I see the professor sitting next to the cleaning woman." 
"He makes presentation and performance a fun, enjoyable and totally memorable experience for his audience," explains Mark Wilkinson, Decca's managing director, "making for a very wide appeal amongst an older demographic." Marketing on TV has been key. "The theatricality and the spectacle makes TV the driving medium," Wilkinson says, "with advertising complementing timely performances that are targeted towards the older, more 'passive' music consumer." 
Rieu is sanguine about classical purists who call his music trivial: "Who cares? People come to my concerts and I do a good job. And what is pure classical music anyway?" 
Rieu is touring North America from Nov. 19 (Washington) until Nov. 30 (Connecticut). Each of his concerts is different from the one the day before, and - unlike many conductors -- he always faces the audience. "Things happen in the audience and I react to it," he explains. "I really want them to be with me." 
This laissez-faire attitude extends to his career path as well. So he can't predict what he'll be doing at this time next year. "I don't plan that far ahead," he laughs. "Sometimes I read about opera singers who have their life planned out for the next ten years. That's not me, I would suffocate. There's plenty of time anyway. I'm 62 now, and I am going to live until I am 120."

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

And yet shows in US are only half sold out, from what I read on here and fb?

Strange.
Kisses from Kim.

Anonymous said...

Oh sorry, I mean concerts of course. Wouldn't want to piss André off :-p

Kisses from Kim.

I always think of them as shows because they are so much more than concerts.

Gary M. Bourret said...

If Andre ever went "pure classical" I would walk away. The mix of music Andre employs is about
right although Weiner Festwalzer is
a bit heavy on waltz and dialogue. Am really pumped waiting for the release of Maastricht V from this
summer. Saw Andre At Cinema (M. V)and it was our cup of tea. The tough USA economy is affecting concert attendance but Mexico concerts made up for it.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a great article, and I agree with Andre when he says "What is pure classical music anyway?" Classical music has always borrowed from popular, jazz and folk music and vice versa. Andre and the JSO have found a way to present classical music in a way that is extremely accessible and enjoyable for audiences. Bravo!
Jennifer Dawson

Barbara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara said...

Oh Blue Eyes what can i say, you rock my world with your waltz's. I never listened to classical music until i found you. Love always Barb.

Bill Tegan said...

I got this DVD "And The Waltz Goes On" a few weeks ago. Sorry to say it is the biggest piece of junk he has ever put out. I don't buy these DVD's to watch how he makes the DVD's I buy them to hear and watch the concerts. Shamefully, there is not much of the concert. He talks to some woman and show how the productions are make. Don't buy this dvd if you want to view the concert as there is very little to watch . I hope the last two DVD's Mexico and this one is not indicative of what we are going to be getting in the future. Lastly, where is the Maastricht 5 DVD concert from last summer?

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to see some people don't like "the making of..." sections of dvd's - we as a family absolutely love it, whether its part of AR's productions or those of other artists.....but then I believe in the old adage of "different strokes for different blokes". The Wiener Festwaltzer dvd has not been released here in South Africa yet, but I acquired the cd a few days ago and I think it is excellent... and I am not one of those fans who put Andre on a pedestal, but I really, really enjoy it. And the same goes for the Fiesta Mexicana dvd. I didn't get round to seeing Maastricht 2011 at the cinema, but what I've seen & heard on the Internet sounds good, so I will definitely buy that one as well, as soon as its available locally.

Entia from sunny and warm South Africa

InekeHolland said...

I agree with Entia. I love to see making ofs and behind the scenes parts. And why not mix them with concert parts?? Ik makes a DVD very interesting and lively.

Gary M. Bourret said...

I'll wade into the deep end of the
pool and venture an opinion that
Wiener Festwalzer is formated more
for European fans. And, it is a
collage of Andre Wien Specials that
culminated in the special medal
presented to the Maestro toward the
end of the DVD. Am sure Wien tourism benefited greatly from Andre focus. A classic WIN WIN for
all involved.

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Pierre and André September 30, 2016 Maastricht

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Photo Taken at Mexico City Concert ~ September 2013

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"Hello to all my fans on The Harmony Parlor!"

Soundcheck in Maastricht 2013 (RTL Photo)

Maastricht 2012 ~ "André on The Theater Steps" by Bee

Maastricht 2012 ~ "André and Pierre on The Theater Steps" by Bee

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