Orchestra leader reveals new album "Love in Venice" in Maastricht to 75 journalists from 12 countries
At Home André is Just Plain Grandpa
André Rieu turns 65 today and it was 20 years ago that he broke through with "The Second Waltz". During an early birthday party for the international press in Maastricht he presented his new album "Love in Venice."
The Venetian carnival runs rampant within the walls of his domain, located on the eastern side of the St. Pietersberg. Extras in colorful traditional dress and with gleaming masks surround the "Kaiser" of the Waltz. He gives them a few small pointers as to how they need to stand for the photo sessions by the many photographers who jostle for the best possible picture.
Teun Ramaekers views the scene from a safe distance. "He just can’t leave it alone. Typical André. Always directing a tight ship," he says that with a smile. Flutist Ramaekers (60) from Maastricht has been part of the Johann Strauss Orchestra for 27 years. He has seen Rieu evolve into the most important musical export product of the Netherlands. "We studied together at the conservatory in Liège. I have been with the Johann Strauss Orchestra from the very beginning. André wanted to try something different and expand his Maastricht Salon Orchestra. I had a permanent position as professor on the conservatories in Eindhoven and Liège, which I gave up. André had an unshakable confidence that everything would turn out alright. The beginning was a huge adventure. Look where we are now. I have been extremely lucky." Ramaekers praises Rieu for realizing his dreams. He is really a special case. André has done everything himself and kept it in his own hands. He has never depended on anyone else." Mutual respect is the strength of Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra. "The enthusiasm one sees is not fake. We all profit from the success. That is why we work so darn hard" says Ramaekers.
Hence the reasons why all the orchestra members are present in the castle garden of their patron. Earlier that day they gave a preview of the new album in the studio, which incidentally will be released to the market on October 31st. Romantic melodies like "Azzuro" and "La Gondola". Rieu revealed some secrets of the costs of recording the CD and DVD, and afterwards the group departed in the luxurious orchestra busses for the ride to the orchestra leader’s residence.
"It is the first time that we address the introduction of a new album in Maastricht this way. Actually quite special," says son Pierre. "But at home André is just plain "Opa" (Grandpa) to his grandchildren. We do not emphasize the fact that he is famous." His fans do that. For the past twenty years, Rieu has performed almost everywhere. Last year he was in Turkey for the first time. This year in November there are two performances programmed. Hence the presence of a Turkish journalist from the paper "Hurriyet", along with promoter Selim Sefada". In 2013, ten thousand tickets were sold in no time at all. That is why we are doing an extra concert this year. Classical music is trendy in Turkey. Rieu is even loved in the Islamic culture. I think that music transcends every religion. He could therefore perform very well in Dubai or Abu Dhabi."
Back to the castle garden. In the meantime, he is steadily working the interviews with the international television teams. In the reception room of the castle the representatives of the press await their turn. Rieu knows that he owes everything to "the Second Waltz". "For years I had to peddle my music in Hilversum, no one wanted me. I picked up an album and heard "The Second Waltz." I added that one quickly to an album. If I had not done that, it would have turned out quite differently." Twenty years later, the record company "Universal" is very happy with the violinist. "It is not going to well with the companies, but I still have a contract with them, since my public still buys CD’s. They want to get their hands on a real CD."
Since André has turned 65 and is eligible for AOW (Old age Pension) that does not mean he is going to slow down. "My health is excellent. I changed my lifestyle. I do weightlifting, which helps me to stay fit. I divide my energy better. Normally I used to do all the promotion myself in all the countries. Now I bring everyone to Maastricht for a day. Moreover, I do not mind having the state pension benefits. Finally I no longer have to worry about money."
Thanks to John for this and the Translation