Interview With André Rieu
About Love, Italy and a Holiday on Lake Garda
Interview by Schlager, Germany: The great virtuoso André Rieu fills all the stages in the world and is currently on his great European tour in Germany until March and allowed us a brief interview in between concerts.
Dear Mr. Rieu, we are very pleased that you took the time out to speak with us and give us an insight into your relationship with Italy. Your new album is called "A Night in Venice". What would you do if you only had one night in Venice?
What would I do? ... I think everything that is romantic. Gondola ride, sitting on the Piazza San Marco - simply wandering along, strolling over the many bridges, admiring the buildings and just let me do my thing. And hope I would meet Commissario Brunetti somewhere and have a glass of wine with him! (laughs)
You are a Donna Leon fan? *** Oh yes, very much so. Marjorie and I never miss an episode.
You wrote the theme song for Donna Leon and there are also three original compositions by you on your new album, all of which are dedicated to Venice ...
Exactly. The Gondola waltz, a tarantella and really important song on the new album for me: Love in Venice.
The song "Love in Venice" you dedicated that on Face Book and YouTube to George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin ...
Yes! We had just finished that when the two got married. I wish them both all the best and hope it brings them happiness. My wife finds that the most romantic thing I've ever composed. We've been married 39 years, and I think we've done everything right together. Maybe they'll do that too, I hope so. (laughs)
What is so special in the composition "Love in Venice"?
I usually play my Stradivarius, but for "Love in Venice" I looked for a violin with a different sound. It should be softer, "more lovingly". I have tried many violins and found a really beautiful, very gentle one that fit perfectly for the piece.
What role does composing play in your life?
Mozart composed with his left hand and at the same time played billiards with his right, drank and made love. So that does not work for me. It is not easy to find time for that, because I often am on stage and we are constantly traveling. I compose together with my first violinist Frank Steijns, who is also an excellent pianist. The idea for "Bella Tarantella" came to me, for example, when I was with Frank in a taxi in Santiago, Chile. Suddenly there it was. That was a wonderful moment!
Could you have ever imagined not playing the violin, but another instrument?
My father was a conductor, and gave me my first violin at age five. I immediately felt that this instrument is like a voice. You can feel its vibration while you play. A piano is also a fantastic instrument, but there is no direct contact with the body. The violin, in this respect is unique in the world; it is very close to you. And that's what I like about it.
That sounds like a love relationship ...
Yes, that's right. When you spend hours each day with an instrument, you must love it. Otherwise it becomes anguish.
There can be no love without broken hearts. Could heartache also be found in your music?
I think that sadness and love belong together, like sadness and joy. I do not think that there can be love without heartache. They belong together. If I love a person, it is for 100 percent. But you can also find heartache in my music.
Azzurro, Volare, That's Amore, O sole mio ... many songs on the new album are about yearnings.
Precisely and about romance. The song, "La Gondola", for example is very melancholy. In every waltz by Johann Strauss you will find joy, love and grief, like in the "Lagoon Waltz." And you also find it in literature. Look at one of the most famous books by Thomas Mann "Death in Venice". Venice is actually an epitome of beauty and romance - but also of transiency - actually a little more opposed to the other cities of Italy.
Rome for instance?
Yes, Rome is quite different, but also fantastic. I could spend hours in the Coliseum – had I not become a musician, I would have been an architect.
Where does this love for Italy come from, so many Northern Europeans have it?
That is due to the sun and love. Marjorie and I both love the country very much; we are big fans of the Italian "way of life". Marjorie speaks perfect Italian, and we go there privately once a year for a week.
So we could find you during the summer at a campsite on Lake Garda?
Haha, no! We mostly travel to Rome and not during the main holiday season. Otherwise I could not move around undetected, that would not be a holiday for me.
In January and February 2015 you and your Johann Strauss Orchestra come to Germany, Austria and Switzerland for twenty concerts. What can the audience expect?
A completely new program with many Italian hits which will make our audience hopefully forget the winter, but also waltzes, operas, operettas and film music. Also the Berlin Comedian Harmonists are with us on the 2015 tour. And at the end we all have a big party. I'm really looking forward to all of it.
*** Donna Leon (aka Commissario Brunetti) is a German television series based on a series of crime novels set in Venice by Donna Leon. It has been produced since 2000 by the ARD in Germany. This TV series is also shown in Spain and in Finland by Yle. Music: André Rieu.
Thanks to Ineke for this German article and John for Translating it for us