He has just returned from a tour of Mexico and he is still going to Australia, New Zealand and England and in January a grand tour through Germany will commence. It has been a kind of routine for André Rieu for 25 years. The world has become small for the star violinist and his famous orchestra, yet he prefers to be at home in Maastricht. He finds it difficult to say goodbye every time he leaves home.
Has that always been the case?
“Yes, even when I was still with the Maastricht Symphony Orchestra. I would wait for the bus while MARJORIE stood in front of the window with the boys who were still young at that stage. I found that awful.”
You have said that you want to die in Maastricht.
“I would prefer to die at home. I was born in Maastricht and I am happy living here. But I am going to become 120 so I still have ample time.”
From where do you get the idea that you will reach 120 years of age?
“Because I feel young and fit. I exercise a lot and do the things that I like and hope to be able to do so for a long time to come. It’s got nothing to do with clairvoyance (fortune telling). I am a down- to- earth and rational person.”
Do the men in your family become old?
“My mother is 93 and recently drove to her house in the south of France. She is so fit. My grandmother reached the age of 102. I have a cordial relationship with my mother although we don’t often see one another because I’m often away (from home).”
What is the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning? Your violin?
“Haha, no, I see my wife first, who is far more beautiful than my violin. But my violin is on a stand next to the bed. If you own a Stradivarius you do not like to let it out of sight.
Why doesn’t your wife ever accompany you on your tours?
“Someone needs to take care of the house and ensure that everything keeps going here”.
Is that the secret of a long and happy marriage?
“Yes, it’s a good recipe (idea) to be away from home often. It becomes boring to do everything together and constantly be in one another’s company for 38 years. We always look forward to seeing one another again. We think and feel the same. Whenever we are together, we discover that again. Amazing.”
So you want to live with the same woman until you are hundred and twenty year old?
“Absolutely! I have only considered a divorce once. That was while we were involved in a dance course and quarreled. She can dance and I can’t. Let me rather play (my violin).”
Can you imagine a life without music?
“No, I cannot. Music penetrates your soul; it goes very deep. It has been proven that music even resonates with people with severe Alzheimers (disease)”.
Do you fear that a time will come when you will not be able to play; not be capable of ascending the stage?
“I never think about that. But if happens, it happens.”
You have gone through a difficult period which must have been rather severe for you?
“Fortunately that is something of the past. I now exercise three times a week and that has totally changed my life. I was suffering from loss of co-ordination. But it eventually turned out that I did not move enough. Someone who, like me, travels a lot and jumps around on stage has to ensure that he remains healthy. I have improved my lifestyle, because it was a warning.”
Don’t you suffer dizzy spells anymore?
“No, never again. The secret really lies in the exercising. Three times a week. Previously I simply never had the time for that, I just worked. I’ve lost fourteen kilos, because even my eating habits have changed. It is very simple: you eat white fish once a week, twice a week white meat, once a week oily fish and red meat also once a week. And once a week you should go to McDonald's and indulge in delicious sin. I stick to the diet and it works well.
Of course you have to cut out soft drinks and sweets.” Isn't that difficult?
“Oh well, once upon a time I smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. When Marjorie was pregnant, I stopped because it would be harmful to our child. I have never touched a cigarette again. If you are motivated, it is not difficult. I just thought about my son's health.”
That son is now a father himself and you are a grandfather…
“I find that wonderful”.
Wouldn’t you have liked to have a daughter?
“Oh, sure, very much. But we're happy with our two sons; we are proud of them. If we had had more children, they would probably also have been boys. We liked the idea of two children; we worked hard and wanted to give as much attention as possible to MARC and PIERRE”.
You come from a big family.
“Yes. We were six children at home and I was always happy. I played with my brothers and other children in the street.”
There is a picture of you with two of your sisters, hand in hand. Do you still have any contact with them?
“Yes, sure, but we all live scattered throughout the country.”
There is another photo from 1970 which depicts you sitting in an attic in Brussels. Under that picture is written: ‘I was very lonely and unhappy.’
“That was me at that time. When Marjorie came, all was well. She saved my life. I was always alone in my room and only studied the violin. Day in, day out.”
What was the most beautiful occasion in your life?
“The birth of my children and meeting my wife. And our grandchildren. Those are beautiful things.”
What was the lowest point of your life?
“That is difficult to say; I’ve actually never had a really bad dip. Well yes, when I was ill a few years ago and couldn’t do anything … that was not nice. That I disappointed my fans and could not work. I hope I will never experience that again.”
You were also on the verge of bankruptcy; you had enormous debts.
“That was also not pleasant, but I find it less aggravating than being ill. I managed to overcome the financial dip. After a year that aspect of my life was healthy again. But to be physically unwell is awful.”
Security at your castle is heavy. Do you fear burglary that much?
“When you are as well known as I am, there are always people who think that everything you own also belong to them. That is of course not the case and every individual is entitled to privacy.”
Have you experienced incidents with (mentally) unstable fans?
“Yes, for sure. Some of them would stand in front of the door for three weeks in the summer and think that I like it, but that is not pleasant. I have also received death threats. Then I brought in the police. Their investigation led to a mentally unstable woman who started crying when the police came to her house.”
Don’t you ever have beautiful women knocking on the door of your hotel room when you are on tour?
“No, we stay in good hotels where you cannot simply walk in. And I also have no need for that. I have always been faithful (to Marjorie). I find that important in a marriage.”
Has there never been a crisis in your marriage in all these years?
“No, we never quarrel. That is perhaps not normal, but it is a fact.”
Are you and your wife soul mates?
“No; for instance, I watch totally different things on television than my wife. But it is a matter of compromise. That is life; love is (about) give and take. That is why I don’t watch only Formula 1 racing, but also some romantic movies, because Marjorie likes it.”
Your father’s death must have been a dreadful time in your life?
“Yes, that was worse than being ill. My father had a stroke and was unconscious afterwards. It didn’t last long and we didn’t know how long he was going to live. He did not recognize us towards the end and that I found terrible.”
What will happen to your Stradivarius after your death?
“As far as I am concerned, it will go to the next generation, but I haven’t decided yet who will
inherit it. I still have ample time to think about that (issue).”
Thanks to Ineke for sending this and Entia Translating it