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Sep 6, 2013

A Visit With Violinist André Rieu in Maastricht


By Lars von der Gönna - Maastricht ... Star violinist André Rieu is certain that the Germans would like to have a King. "German fans told me after the Coronation in April: "We also want a King. What is wrong with that?" he says.

An interview about the longing for a monarchy and expensive violins.

André Rieu speaks proudly about the Orangery of his castle. "Old glass. Authentic in style. If I had not become a musician, I would have become an architect". As we already know, he became a musician ...

A meeting with the successful violinist in his native Maastricht
The evening before, André Rieu had delighted 10,000 visitors with an open-air concert. Now he speaks from his Maastricht castle about music without problems, small beginnings, really expensive violins and the monarchy.
Shortly before midnight last night, even the people with walkers were dancing in the isles during your concert. 

You certainly did not need to ask them if they truly believed in the healing powers of music.
André Rieu:" I do not really believe that is the only reason. This morning early over breakfast I talked with my wife about that. The people are happy about something. Those faces!! Those people are happy. Of course it is healing."

Loyal fans say: they see André as if they see someone from their family.
Rieu: "I cannot explain it. I do not have a theory on this. I can only say: "Every evening, no matter where in the world I perform, people come in droves. Some drive 3000 miles just to experience a concert. Why do they come from Argentina, Brazil or the Fiji Islands? I only see that they are overjoyed. Actually you would have to ask the people, not me ... A gentleman at one of the concerts gave me the answer. He said: "This is music without any problems". That’s it. Of course there are the purists who will ask why I do not play great dramatic music in my concerts. You know, I have had enough drama in my life-and I can do quite well without it, I like it this way."

Now that we have your attention ...

Rieu: When I am on stage there is only one central goal: to make the people and me happy. Problems on stage? Phew. There are plenty of them. Just go see an opera. I recently watched Arti Wagner’s "Meistersinger" on TV, beautiful music, but everything ultra modernly staged, that’s not my world. Or like recently with "Rheingold" on a barge on the Rhine, sweltering below deck with only room for 500 people. No thanks. I hope they all like that. But it is nothing for me." 

500 people are too few for you?
Rieu: Yes, you can say that, for me that would really be a few to few.

They were orchestral musicians, the classical concert business to which you deliberately turned your back.
Rieu: "Yes, quite deliberate. But enough about that. Every city has a subsidized opera and orchestra. But that is okay-for others."

Are there colleagues of those times that stayed?
Rieu: "Yes, my brother for example. He sits there in the Marseille Orchestra as a cellist. Not only is he a good musician, but he also has a tremendous comical talent. For 35 years I have told him: "Do something with that. Take the plunge. You know something. He is still with that orchestra. I told him: "One of these days this wall will bury you. At some point it will fall on your head. But unfortunately he is still there."

You have risked much as you have turned down a secure job as an orchestral violinist.
Rieu: I started really small, a salon orchestra with only a few musicians. We played at town festivals, and in nursing homes. That is where I learned what I can do. Actually I am still doing exactly now what I did then.

A good school?
Rieu: You can say that. During that time as an example, I played for 80 lawyers. I do not need to explain firstly that lawyers are the types to come out of their homes sober, dry and boring. But I have always made a sport out of it to have the people standing on the tables at dessert time. I have always managed to that, even with lawyers. And today it is still the same. At the end, the entire hall explodes.

Your orchestra acts like a single good-time team. They seem to have mastered the art so as to never make it seem like work.
Rieu: Many musicians apply who would like to join us. I notice immediately whether one fits into the group or not. What we do is dead serious. It must always be 100%, always. It affects everything, being so playful. And yes, so it is! But at the same time everything is under my control."

May we ask you about your Stradivarius?
Rieu: "Yes, it is currently being restored."

Was it difficult to obtain one?
Rieu: "On the contrary. From the minute the violin world knew that André Rieu was looking for a noble instrument, I could barely save myself from the offers. They were like flies. Really!! Afterwards I did not need to ask for anything more. I think Yehudi Menuhin had been dead less than a week and I already had one of his violins in my house."

In this world everything is copied, which has consequences. Have you counted all the boy-groups yet? And one wonders why there is no Rieu-plagiarism. 
Rieu: "Well, weird yes? Maybe this is proof that what we do is not so easy. It is truly a special business. If it were that easy there would have long been hundreds of orchestras doing the same thing and partake in the success. But there aren’t any."

To that you add humility by saying that you are not the best violist in the world.
Rieu: No, I'm not. I'm not the best violinist in the world, nor am I the best conductor. I'm also not the best entertainer. And the best businessman either. Actually, I'm not disciplined in any of the best. But then it all adds up to something special."

You performed a huge concert in Amsterdam for the coronation of the new King. Are you in favor of a monarchy?
Rieu: I am an absolute monarchist. No matter in which country I am, I always tell them: "Have yourselves a King! But please, one just like we have."

In contrast to the matter of politics?
Rieu: "My use for a monarchy is not nonsense. A republic is boring, impersonal. Thus a king or a queen - that says something!"

Do the Germans have the same desire?
Rieu: "But of course they do. In April after the coronation German fans told me: "We also want a King! What is wrong with that? Of course it is a relic from the middle Ages, and it really does not suit us anymore. But if you have a Queen like Beatrix, then a people have a real mother."

Couldn’t a President do that?
Rieu: "A good politician could of course be like a father to me, but I actually do not know of any."

Our thanks to John for this German Translation


Anonymous said...

Thank you, John...

Jillian said...

"A good politician could of course be like a father to me, but I actually do not know of any."

LOL Wow, that's quite a good quote there!






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