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Dec 22, 2012

"LINDA" Interview With André Rieu


"LINDA" Interview With André Rieu
December 20, 2012, Jojanneke van den Bergen: You seem so friendly André, a nice cozy Limburger, but with the photo shoot you were rather cool towards the team. "I do not like that" you said right away. The stylist was not allowed to touch your clothing.
André Rieu: I do not like to be photographed. All those people picking at you, who find that so important, Horrible."

That seems awkward for a world star, a pop star if you may, a classical musician, named our best export product after Johan Cruyff (Dutch soccer star)
"That is true. Just cannot handle that. I much rather have them take photos while I am busy. Just let me be on the stage with my public, let me entertain the people, that’s what I like."

Are you adverse to glamour?
"Absolutely. Prestigious award presentations, gala’s, red carpet affairs, photo shoots….dreadful. All that preparing, to sit around and wait all day, to look important. It is so orchestrated and played out. At the World Music awards in Monaco, I experienced Michael Jackson and Diana Ross arguing over who had the better VIP parking place in the garage, and who was allowed to sit closest to Prince Albert. Oh gee holy c…p, I then think. That’s when I crawl into my shell and would much rather go back to my orchestra, or go home. I would much rather go shopping. When I return from a tour and we land in Frankfurt at six in the morning, I am home in Maastricht by eight. The stores have just opened, and I go shopping. I think that’s class.

That’s class?
Class in a Limburg kind of way. When we say class, it means it is just nice.
 
Do you become cross with too much attention?
"I find it one of the annoying aspects of this life. Most people, who recognize me, give me a friendly nod or they say: Mr. Rieu, I so enjoy your work. That is nice. But some people think that you are their property. I get the same feeling from a stylist, although she does not mean it."

Quite remarkable. You do not enjoy glamour, yet you live in a castle with a butterfly garden. You live in a fairytale world. "Yes, of course. When I was younger, I always read Tin-tin. At a certain point, Captain Haddock buys a castle. You then see him walking around, totally happy. I thought: I would like that too."

What sort of feeling does that give you? Being able to buy a castle?
"That was very nice. Gratifying. I have totally fixed it up until it looked like Captain Haddock’s. Just like when I used to dream about it."

Do you believe in those sorts of things? That something can become a reality when you think very hard about: this is what I want?
"Yes, for sure. If you really want it. It went that way with my music too. My father was a conductor and from an early age on I thought: "There is something wrong with classical music. It is very nice, but the manner in which it is presented is so boring, so wrong….elitist. It is shackled. For instance, you are not allowed to play just a part of "La Traviata", you have to play it entirely. That is something I do not like. I often saw people technically make wonderful music, but it did absolutely nothing for me. I resolved to change some of that."

At the conservatory you were not happy having to play certain pieces.
"And even when I was with an orchestra. And I was not the only one either. I think you can find a lot of victims in the world of classical music. I once watched a documentary about the people in the Berlin philharmonic. They were on a six week’s tour in Japan and every evening they had to play Wagner’s operas. After four weeks they experienced psychological problems. Really."

What do you mean by victims?
Yes, I compare it with what also happens in top sports. Tennis as a for instance. Children who have been forced by their parents to play. Look what happened to André Agassi. The same happens in the music world. I used to see musicians who came visiting my father at home. They were often in bad shape. Sad…They dejectedly trudged around with their violin or cello, which was often carried by their wives. Moreover."

Was that expected?
"Yes……I do not know why. Anyway, I am surprised how many men secretly think about women. I have friends, very intelligent men, who after they have had a few glasses of wine say horrible things about women. It then seems to be in the middle ages. I never had those kinds of ideas. I always wanted to marry someone with whom I could work together, who was on the same level as I. And that is what I did. Marjorie and I have now already been together for 37 years."

You receive a gigantic amount of bad criticism.
"My public can never restrain itself. They sway happily along, but there is always someone not moving: that is the critic. At one of the AVRO programs (Television Company) I saw a lady with a crappy hair band. She said aggrieved (with a posh accent): "I always used to go to the museum, but the last years I have to wait in line, apparently because another sort people now also visit the museum. In other words, she can no longer feel superior by going to the museum since the masses also go there. And that is the same with classical music."

Is it a crutch for the elite to feel themselves exalted?
"Yes, so you can tell your friends: "I have season tickets for the Concert building orchestra." My public consists of another type of people. People who wear their hearts on their sleeves, who don’t really care whether a music piece is presented in "fortepiano" or "fortissimo". They just want to have a nice evening. They want to be entertained, to be brought to tears or laughter. For that I use classical music as a tool, and make it accessible to the masses. And with that I make an enormous amount of people happy."

Your breakthrough in 1995 came totally out of nowhere. All of the sudden you were being heard all over with "The Second Waltz". My mother, who has a ballet school, even uses your hit to dance with her little ones.
"Ha, yes, but Marjorie and I had to peddle our little suitcase with music in Hilversum for seven years. There they continued to tell us: "Just return quickly to the south with your waltzes. Later on these people were all let go. Funny, he? Until finally there was just one man who gave us a chance. In a year I sold 850,000 CD’s. That man was Herman van Zwan, now employed by Universal."

Yet many people understand the woes of your success In the Netherlands it is usually not "cool" to enjoy André Rieu, there is something kitschy, corny about that.
"There is here a limit in finding me enjoyable. Maybe due to my waltz etiquette, while I do play other music. Most people need to have seen one of my performances first, before they understand it all."

Don’t you find that frustrating?
"A TV program sends a reporter to a renowned concert hall and let twenty people through headphones listen to classical music. Oh nice, they all said. What was that? When they heard that it was Andre Rieu, they were appalled. I do not care for that at all."

I do not think that you are quite indifferent about it.
"Now, well, OK, I am not totally indifferent about it. It is plain elite snobbery. "My grandmother lived with us and she could only enjoy music if she knew who was playing. I always told her: "Just listen to the music, Oma."

You are more appreciated abroad. You are hugely popular in unlikely countries like Brazil and Mexico.
"And with the Eskimos."

You do have an awkward name for an international star.
"For sure. It becomes Rieaiieaiieaiiiii."
You were talking about parents who force their children. From the age of five you were forced to play violin by your father.
"My brothers and sisters too. I thought that was normal. In kindergarten I asked the other children what kind of violin they had. Later on I discovered that there were also normal people walking around. At our house, at least I felt so, it was impossible to say: "That shitty music – sorry about that word – I do not like." I would much rather play outside than study the violin."

Did it feel like coercion?
"Yes, it was. Back then I found it to be very bad what my father did. I fabricated all sorts of excuses, or hid my violin booklets. But they were always found again."

Had your father not been a musician, would you have become what you are today?
"I would not know."

What did your father think of your approach?
"He did not raise me to play waltzes. Before my breakthrough I had a small salon orchestra: with which I played at small festivities and parties. I learned a lot from that; how to arrange for parties. Even lawyers came to me for that. He found it appalling. That was not the intention."

Would he have rather seen you ...
"How should I know, my occupation is in arts with a capital "A". He died just before my great breakthrough."

He never experienced your success. Is that difficult for you?
"I never had a close bond with my father. I don’t know whether we now, afterwards --- actually it does not interest me."

It could also be giving you satisfaction. A sense of see….
"There are a lot of people who say that I work so hard to impress my late father. I don't believe that."

But you still get emotional when you talk about your father.
"When I see a film about a difficult relationship between a father and a son that does something to me. Then I am touched to tears, certainly when everything turns out well. So I think ... there must be something ... that's true."

Is your violin sacred? How do you handle it?
"Just normal, like a "thing"."

It is not in a secure with diamond studded showcase?
"It is a Stradivarius from 1732. Almost 300 years old, worth a few million, but it is just in my study. On tour I have someone who carries and cares for it."

Not a woman, André?
"No, oh no, a man, for sure."

Do you talk to your violin?
"No, because it does not answer. We have a hate-love relationship. When I have to practice with it for hours, really do those shitty exercises – oh, there is that word again -- to train my fingers, then brrrrr...."

I had the same feeling when I wanted to become a dancer at the dance academy. Training so hard, is heavy. The real joy comes on stage.
"Exactly. Although for me it is never really fully enjoyable. I am seldom completely satisfied."

Do you think you're good?
"There are people who play much better than I. They study all day; they have as far as I know all their concerts lined up. But I can touch people with my violin playing. It's very schizophrenic. I have to open myself up on stage but at the same time I have to be very tough. There you have to deliver. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Sometimes I think: "I wished I had been a gardener". Don’t you ever experience that, right before you have something to do on TV?"
 
Sure. Then you ask yourself: "Why am I doing this to myself"? That continuous delivering became too much for you at a certain time. You experienced two serious burn-outs, shortly after each other.
"Literally I gave too much. Too much for my fans, I spent too much money. I experienced weird disorders, like an infection on my equilibrium. In February I carefully started working out. Working out means you are busy with yourself and no one else. I eat healthier. I lost 12 kilos ( 26 lbs)."

Did it change you?
"Because it happened for the second time I really had to turn around. Now I set my limits sooner."

Do you still have huge dreams which have to become a reality?
"Just to continue on like this. Till I drop dead, of old age of course. "

Would you like to die on stage?
"No, just in my bed, during my sleep."

You have beautiful hair, which is cared for by your own hairstylist. Is your hair your most important asset?
"No."

André with a crew cut would be a totally different sight.
"Ha, but my face is more important. That says everything. Your face tells me everything too. You are open, spontaneous. When I saw that, I knew that we could be playful during the photo shoot."

Your wife Marjorie remains conscientiously outside the publicity.
"Yes, that is a conscious choice. We receive the weirdest offers. Paris Match says: "You'll get the cover plus twenty pages if you do an article together with your wife". We won’t do that. She wants to lead her own life."

Do you adore her?
"I think I drew a winning ticket from the lottery. I have known her from the age of 11. Marjorie was 13 and my sister's friend. She was always remained in my mind. While I was studying at the conservatory she came by and visited me one day and then the sparks flew. First we wrote letters for six weeks."

Weren't you through an error in the universe born in the wrong time?
I hear that often. I love iPhones and modern gadgets, but the romance of earlier times I find wonderful. When I am on tour, there are days when Marjorie and I only just write to each
other. Well yes, I mean by mail, but with long and beautiful sentences. You can display your feelings better in written texts."

Do you love to withdraw in a fairytale world?
"I love fairy tales, for sure. With my grandchildren I can revel in fantasy about pirates. I love that. Thinking things up. Making things more beautiful than they are. Just like the walls in this house. They were dark brown and now they are white with gold trim."

The main motto in your life: place a golden lining in everything?
"Isn't that nice? Those princess' gowns of my girls in the orchestra on stage, I personally design them. Especially low necklines I find important. It has to look beautiful. I often see ladies in these classical orchestras in a black cloth and with a face like an earworm. Why??"
 
Do you have groupies?
"Yes, a lot."

Are you never been tempted when a beautiful woman approaches you and says: "Oh, André ... your hair..."
"What am I suppose to do then? Sleep with all those women or what?? That seems to be very exhausting to me. There are also beautiful women in the audience and I like to look at them. And to smile to each other. But there it stops, and I had a nice moment. There are also a couple of stalkers, and I don't like that at all. Sometimes they are here near our house. Fortunately they cannot keep that up for months. One is there again, every concert on the first row. With such a drawn out, scary face. It is really terrible. It started after my first hit. Suddenly there was someone who followed the bus and ended up in front of my door. That scares you to death. I consulted Harry Sacksioni (a famous Dutch saxophone player), who was once confronted in his bedroom by a stalker with a knife. He taught me how to cope with this. For instance: Never talk to them."

Your money of course is also attractive. Previously you had little. Now you have a lot.
"I spoil my family, my orchestra and myself, but I do not have millions in the bank. I earn a lot, but the company also costs a lot. I have to be very careful."

Just like the million dollar copies of the Sissi castles you created as decorum. It almost led to your bankruptcy, after you experienced that financial disaster due to your burn-outs. Everything belonged to the Rabo Bank. My royalties, my name, violin, this castle, everything. One banker said: We are stopping here. Another said: No way, Rieu makes beautiful music; he'll recoup that in no time. I was 38 million in debt. The next year I had 20 million in the black. That idiotic expensive décor earned itself back by the extra press attention and ticket sales. I don't regret it."

Everything for the ultimate fairy tale world.
"Precisely!!"

A Huge Thank You to John and Ineke for the Translation of this Long Interview to end 201
2 with!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Andre I enjoyed your "Linda" inter
view. Now I know more about the person "Andre Rieu" ! I must say I
was suprised by some of your answers, but the rest were absolutely how I imagined it !

Elize Nel

Anonymous said...

Thanks for translating. Jojanneke is a great interviewer, she always draws out unexpected answers from her interviewees.

J. Meter.

GM Bourret said...

Interesting interview!! Trying to picture Andre with a crewcut or wind swept hairdo like Janneke. Keep the hairdressers AWAY- HaHaHa!
Also, I have about 20+ Andre CD/DVD and ZERO Classical albums so the critics can howl at the moon as far as I'm concerned. Play on maestro!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ineke & Ruud, I did enjoy reading this article, great interview!

Dee Demasson

Rose Gregg said...

It's good to learn some of the details I did not know about Andre. He is a very interesting man. I'm so proud of him that he is so faithful to his lovely wife and hope that will always be the case. He certainly is an inspiration to so many people. Thank you for this article. Really enjoyed reading it, Ineke & Ruud.

Sue Berry said...

It's a Great article isn't it? And a LONG one!! It was done my John and Ineke though ... :)

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the interview, it was great! Thanks to Sue and Ineke and John, I appreciate all the work that goes into translaing and putting the interviews of Andre on Websitesl

Peggy Wiedle

Francine Chavanon said...

J'aime beaucoup cet interview, André est un homme adorable avec sa modestie et sa simplicité. Son talent est immense et il travaille tellement que son succés est amplement mérité. Je souhaite qu'il continue longtemps à faire de sa merveilleuse musique pour le plus grand plaisir de son nombreux public. GOD BLESS YOU, Maestro. Francine.

Jill Baggaley said...

Lovely interview by a genuine & lovely man! keep up your good work Andre, you give pleasure & purpose to thousands of people, we all adore you & tour Orchestra! Good Health & Wealth to you:-)

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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!"

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