"Always Happy, when I return home"
The famous violinist, André Rieu is truly "a homebody". He never wants to live in any other city then MaastrichtAachen by Angela Delonge: Our region is surrounded by large cities, whose appearances have extremely been altered in recent years. We see celebrities in cities like Maastricht, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Bonn or Bochum, who have lived there since their birth, and have seen the changes. For an interview series, we have asked them to reflect onto their hometown. What is it about this city, who still lives there, what has changed? Is it still their home town?
The beginning of our interview-series is with violinist André Rieu from Maastricht, to be followed by Cabaret artist Rainier Pause from Bonn, singer Pieter Hein from Düsseldorf, author Frank Goosen from Bochum and actor Peter Millowitsch from Cologne.
Rieu, the Waltz king, is a Maastricht citizen through and through. For him, who tours with his orchestra and performs concerts around the entire world, his home town is not only a love affair but also a source of power. André Leon Marie Nicholas Rieu was born in 1949 in Maastricht, was raised there, and would not even dream to ever move to another city.
Mr. Rieu, you and your family live primarily in Maastricht.
Rieu: Yes, I only live in Maastricht. I do not, like many other artists, have several homes around the world. Not even in Hawaii or Majorca, or a vacation home somewhere else. My family lives in Maastricht and also many of my friends. There I always gladly return to.
You are then truly a homebody.
Rieu: Oh, yes, absolutely! Just because I travel a lot around the world, I am happy that in the truest sense of the word, I have a home. I feel very comfortable there, I am always happy when I return home.
Have you ever thought about moving to another city?
Rieu: No, why should I? The entire year I visit foreign countries and continents, and many are very beautiful, but only here do I really feel at home.
How much time during a year do you spend at home?
Rieu: Honestly, I do not really know. Upon completion of every tour, I return to Maastricht. There, or in its close surroundings is where the majority of my orchestra lives. They are young people with families, and it is also very important that we do not stay gone too long. The majority of the time we are gone no longer than three weeks. In Europe, generally no more than a week.
Which do you feel more, a geographical or an emotional connection with Maastricht?
Rieu: In the first place of course an emotional one. I was born here, attended school and met my wife Marjorie here. And also my professional career started here. But apart from that, I like Maastricht and its surroundings very much. The city is not too large, dates back to the Roman times and has an interesting history. There are many medieval buildings which lend that special character.
How do the Maastricht citizens treat you? Do they view you as one of their own, or do you need to go incognito through the streets?
Rieu: The Maastricht citizens are all very laid-back about that. They know me, simply greet me warmly when they see me and at the most will ask then whether I am on tour or not. They do not bother me by asking for photographs or autographs or bother me in any other way.
Does that means that you feel as happy as a pig in mud here in Maastricht?
Rieu: Yes! I always want to live here and eventually, in a hundred years or so, also die here.
In the 50’s, you and five brothers and sisters were raised in the old city of Maastricht. How was that as a child?
Rieu: It was outside the city center, almost in the country. It was very quiet there. Across from us lived a farmer with a large piece of land. As a child I played there often. You could also play in the streets since there hardly were any cars.
In recent years Maastricht has rapidly changed. Do you like the "new" Maastricht?
Rieu: Luckily "Old Maastricht" has changed little. The beautiful old churches and other buildings are still there and lend the city its atmosphere.
In contrast to earlier times, what has changed?
Rieu: Everything! That is in Maastricht not any different than in any other city. You cannot compare Maastricht today with the Maastricht of the fifties.
Your birth house in Plenkershoven is just outside the "old" city. Are there still any connections to this house or its territory?
Rieu: Every now and then I drive passed the house and fondly remember the times we played there in the street.
Rieu: It is the most beautiful of all Maastricht. On the one hand you are "outside" at the foot of the hill and on the Maas and on the other hand you are a twenty minutes walk from the city center.
Are you sometimes critical about your home town? And if so, in which areas?
Rieu: Too much traffic. Too many traffic signs and stripes on the roads. They distract, cost too much and are a danger to traffic.
You perform concerts all over the world. Are the Vrijthof concerts something special, maybe an expression of your love for Maastricht?
Rieu: Of course it is something special when you can perform in your home town and thousands of visitors come from all over the world. My orchestra and I dearly love these concerts. There always exists a great atmosphere, everyone is happy and glad at the end of each concert and sings our songs for hours on end in the streets and terraces. I think that does not happen anywhere else in the world.
When and why did you start with these concerts?
Rieu: For nine years now. Next year will be the tenth year that the concert series will take place. Why? Because the Vrijthof is the most beautiful place I know. It is very large, unobstructed (most squares in the word have either a fountain or statue in the middle), surrounded by terraces, restaurants and bars (pubs), and the atmosphere is unique.
Rieu: My house with my family, the garden, the Orangerie (greenhouse) with many blooming flowers, birds and butterflies.
Thank You to Ineke for sending the article and John for Translating it.