Star Violinist’s Son Speaks Out About His Exceptional Youth
By Boris van Zonneveld: Although Pierre works as vice president for father André’s company, his oldest son Marc, chose a different path. He is an artist and exhibits his workings this summer during his father's concerts in the Theater on the Vrijthof in Maastricht. "I do not work in the company, which is my choice." says Marc. "But I do make good use of my last name." Six years ago his career took off. Back then I asked my father if he would like it if I could show my paintings during his concerts, basically just for the fun of it. At first I brought 36 paintings, and after the two weekend performances of my Dad, I was two-thirds sold out. So I thought: "We’ll do this again." Now there are real collectors who return every year. "Since that time I have slightly raised my prizes. They vary between two and three thousand Euros per canvas.
Painting is my profession, and from that I have to support a wife and two children. The expositions during the concerts provide a nice income, but it is not all about that. "Two years ago I had sold everything in Maastricht and on the last day an Australian lady came up to me and said that I must be pretty rich by now. I replied: "Do you know why I am so rich now? It is because I have a beautiful wife and two healthy children. I only need those painting in order to feed them." Then it was quiet and she said: "If you maintain that thought for the rest of your life, you will go far."
Marc Rieu, educated as an art historian, plays piano, but not the violin, although during his formative years he did receive lessons in the instrument that brought his father fame. André’s Dad, André Sr. was the Limburg Symphony Orchestra’s conductor. He had his son play the violin from the age of five. There was less pressure with Marc. "We did receive violin lessons, but not every day just before going to school. My father thinks it's important that we do what we enjoy and what interests us. Only then will you stick with it until you die. I also want to give my children that."
Pierre once said in an interview: "My three-years-older brother and I have been raised fairly free. Although certain expectations were placed upon us. For instance; every summer we went to a language camp for three weeks, a different country every year". Marc laughed when the language camp was brought up. "We actually did language courses. The reason; my father thought it was important that we always did something useful. Playing outside was alright as long as we were doing something. Like playing soccer. We were not allowed to just hang out. Once one of our mother’s old colleagues who had studied German came by and asked: "Marjorie, why not send your boys to a language camp." The rest is history. "Pierre and I spent the next three summers, three weeks each in Germany. There was only one language: German. But, I also took four more summer courses in French in France and Belgium and spent two summers in Paris. Those were a week and a half with a Flemish organization for Flemish children who had to learn French. We were the only Dutch children." During summer vacation there was also time for "the family." First we took a language course, and afterwards we went with our parents on a three weeks vacation. The summer was one of the few times that we were all free."
School was not always easy for Marc. "My father did not have an every day job. For two years, when he was still unknown I was being bullied. Back then, a locally known father, the wrong schoolbag … they always found something. Halfway though I changed schools because it became unbearable. Marc’s world changed when André broke through nationally in 1994. "We moved to inside Maastricht. I went to a second secondary school. Everyone all of the sudden wanted to be my friend, classmates helped me with my homework, everyone was nice. The first few months I walked around with a sense of: "Where are the remarks about my father, my schoolbag?" - but that did not happen.
With the rising popularity of André the indecent proposals by women also came about. When he became famous, we began to recognize those women by their envelopes, which had been soaked with some sort of penetrating perfume. When you see those women after a concert revealing their cleavage to my father while sticking a pen in his hand and would he please place his signature on their chest ..."
Now André is a world star and Marc did not see that coming. But now it is quite self-evident. It is still very nice and wonderful. I look at it with one percent disbelief and ninety-nine percent pride. That only one percent of disbelief consists of everything I have experienced from the beginning. The salon orchestra, with which he played in a retirement home in front of a hundred people. And where Pierre, a friend and I dressed up as "the Three Kings" were allowed to sing a song. And now I am on the Vrijthof in the middle of the other ten thousand fans and I think: "Isn’t it still a little weird that it is your dad who is providing all these people the evening of their lives." He has got it together. That is, saying it in Maastrichts, very posh.
Thanks to Ineke for the article and John for his ©Translation