André Rieu, His Castle, His Million-Emporium
His Family Happiness and His Secrets
Bild Magazine Nov. 2015: And Fairytales do come true - "Once upon a time ... that is how fairytales begin, but not this one. And yet, this one is. A story about someone who travels the world and with his music makes the world a little happier and friendlier. One who with his famous Stradivarius extracts feelings, and one who gave an audience of millions unforgettable moments of happiness with his Sissi castle and golden carriage.Waltz King André Rieu, a modern Johann Strauss, who loves his fairytales, his dreams - while keeping both feet on the ground - and through notes and ideas, love and discipline built his emporium. What are his secrets? Bild Stars opens the doors to a fascinating empire. The person and also the master violinist, André Rieu, who keeps his family totally private.
His World. I Love my dream ... and am happy when my public is happy. When people laugh, cuddle and kiss - then we reached their soul ...
Maastricht in autumn, a mere 110 Kilometers from Cologne, 16 Degrees (C) and a clear blue sky. Yellow-gold leaves dance from the trees and the Dutch are sitting in front of their Café's while the sun caresses them. Here one lives life at a slower pace than anywhere else in Europe. One does not know the hustle and bustle here. As soon as one arrives in the city of 120.000 inhabitants, one finds the studios of Waltz King André Rieu in the middle of the industrial area. It resembles the Berlin Chancellery a little - but is smaller. Not far from there one finds a castle.
In front of the door a red Tesla (130,000 Euros). The Master violinist's car, who has sold over 40 million DVDs and CDs, received 411 Platinum and 171 Golden awards and has 1.7 million Face Book Friends. More than 600,000 fans travel each year worldwide to his concerts. He is considered to be on the same level as pop stars like Cher, Depche Mode, Bon Jovi, Miley Cirus or Elton John.
Rieu - a merciless perfectionist - who does not leave anything to chance. People love his art, his music and happily let themselves be led in three-quarter time into his dream world for a few hours.
No matter where in the world he performs, his concerts are always sold out. And now, the Waltzking and his orchestra go on tour through Germany. More open than ever, the world star speaks in this Bild-Star interview about his 34 million Euro bankruptcy, his therapy, how to reappraise his relationship with his father, his unending love for his wife, why he hates champagne and red carpets, and why he goes to the barber every two months. But also that he needs a million Euro per month to maintain his Johann Strauss Orchestra and his team and what his 750 Euro monthly retirement would pay.
A meeting in his own castle with coffee, a meringue and whipped cream fancy cake with sour cherries.
I was born pure. When my aunt came to visit us, she always said: "This little boy is always happy." I am always unmentionably happy. I do not like to complain.
Once again, how do you manage to stay successful for decades and not have any scandals?
Scandals!! I cannot help that. I have been happily married for 40 years, and why not? I cannot sleep with all my fans. Besides I am responsible for 100 employees. You cannot be continuously involved in a scandal.
At your concerts you only see happy people. How do you manage to move your audience?
Emotions are most important. From early on when I played with my Salon Orchestra in retirement homes, all the blissfully cried. It was everyone's wish to cure the world. Today there are a lot of younger people in the audience. They kiss during their concert, the embrace each other, cry, laugh, and dance. I think it depends on how we play and how we communicate with the public. I refer to it all the time.
How do the feelings of the audience affect you?
They go directly to the spot - and touch me deeply. Twice I had to cry while on stage. It was shown on the huge screens. I am not at all ashamed about that, but at the same time do not like it either. That is un-professional.The audience is allowed to cry, but not I.
Which dreams and wishes do you still have?
My father was a famous director. We used to have renowned musicians like for instance Yehudi Menuhin visit us. They all were soloists. They were always alone. So, I have always said: "That is not what I want, I want to have an Orchestra, play together with the people. This is a dream I fulfilled. And in addition, I love to travel. Not as a tourist, which I do not like. I do not like to look at buildings, I like to see the people. Yes, I am living my dream.
What is still missing from your entire happiness?
We are working on that, to conquer America. That, for an artist is the most difficult country.
You once said that your father was very strict and did not treat the children with respect. Today your younger brother still suffers from that. How have you dealt with that difficult relations ship with your father who has since then passed on?
I was in therapy for several years. I was 25 when I started and that was smart. You have to deal with that from the inside out. And I accomplished that. The older my father became, the more he became a sort of religious fanatic. At the end he thought he was a priest. You could no longer be close to him. My younger brother eventually moved to Marseille, but that was only an escape. He could have flown to the moon - but he still carries that with him.
Are you never the less still religious?
Here in the Maastricht region everyone is Catholic. I was brought up religiously and sang every Sunday in the church choir. I still consider myself to be religious. Today I only believe in the good that is within us as people. Only we the people have the power to change things - and we should not wait until God makes the changes for us.
Do you still fear anything today?
Actually, no, not anything. Only about dying.
David Garret said in an interview that he did not find himself so great. How do you find yourself?
He really said that? I find him to be super. He is a fantastic violinist. He has his audience and I have mine.
In many of your performances you wear a conspicuous brooch on your collar. Is that an heirloom?
No, no. It is only worth five Euros. I design everything myself - a lady costume maker made this brooch for me. And a gold chain goes with that. That one is worth about 2 Euro 50. However, a befriended goldsmith gave me a diamond-studded brooch. That valuable piece I now only wear with an inexpensive chain.
Do you actually know your precise bank account balance?
The account balance changes of course, but it is healthy. For the Johann Strauss Orchestra and my team I have one million in fix costs, and if you ask me if money makes me happy; no, not at all, but it provides me freedom. The freedom to play and do what I want to do. I am responsible but not accountable to anyone. And this freedom for me is most important.
Have you ever really messed up?
Well, yes, when we copied Schönbrunn Palace in full scale to tour with, I put myself in deep financial troubles. The men of the bank came to my house to tell me that I was 34 million in the hole. I had a week to think how I could solve the problem. That was not nice. That money scandal turned into a big advertisement for me; bigger than having covered the world with promotional posters. Everyone knew about it and wished to see the Schönbrunn Palace. So the tour turned out to be a huge success. A year later I had 20 million in my account.
Schönbrunn is not used anymore?
I'll tell you a secret. We would love to bring the Palace out again. Although we won't tour with it anymore, but probably we'll erect it in Cardiff to give several concerts over there.
You always work so disciplined, almost like a perfectionist.
Yes, that is who I am. As a youngster I rose at 6 AM every morning in order to be exactly on time at the conservatory. My wife liked my discipline so much that she said: He is the one I marry!
You never attend parties?
I hate champagne, I hate parties. When I have been invited to an event because I am receiving an award, I avoid the red carpet. If possible, I enter through the back entrance. Real life is not parties, real life is at home. When I arrive after having been on tour, I love to go directly from the airport to the supermarket to buy something. Then I know I am home!
Did you ever leave a shop because it was too expensive?
No I never ask what it costs. That is often not a good idea. In San Francisco I once purchased a Jacket from Armani. On the counter were just some normal looking white T-shirts and I had five of them wrapped. When I saw the bill I was blown away. The cost was 250 dollar each!
What do you prefer to wear?
I would love to walk around in Medieval clothes. Light tops and tight stocking-pants. That is imaginative and comfortable. I had to wear that once for the recording of an album. If I would wear it today, people would think I was crazy.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully then everything will still be the same as today. I work out three times a week, power training under the direction of a personal coach. I like to do the exercise right. Because it is especially good for my back.
Would you like to visit a plastic surgeon?
Never! Many people are so smoothed out, that you can not recognize the face anymore.
One of your trademarks is your hair-do. How do you maintain your hair?
Take a shower, blow dry, that's it! I go to the barber every two months. Not as frequent as earlier. When you get older your hair grows slower. Just a wash and cut. Without coloring, and I pay € 75.
In the Show-business world there is hatred and malice. Have you ever experience it?
I really don't feel I belong to the show business world. No really, not at all! We just perform our concerts every night. We create something real every night, no big show.
Heino just turned into a rocker. Can you imagine turning into a different violin player?
No. I stick to what I do now. The audience likes it. The orchestra likes it. One cannot change that.
Once you said that you came into puberty when you were 26 years old. Were you a late bloomer?
Yes, my wife also. We just discovered everything a little bit later. Once we entered a shop and both of us had long hair at that time and wore only one earring. The shop assistant asked: "Ladies are you being served????" (He laughed)
Yes. When we were young my brother and I had many opportunities with the girls. They loved to be with us, but really we did not do anything. We were not shy, but wise. But because we were totally clueless we would probably have brought 10 children into this world. We had a strict Roman Catholic upbringing and we had no idea about the existence of contraceptives. In these sort of things I am probably a boring human being, but I am not ashamed of that. When I speak about this today, I amaze myself.
A typical Dutchman is known for clogs and a caravan. You too?
I don't wear clogs anymore at all, and most Dutch people don't either, but they love their caravan because they are thrifty. They prefer to have a three week holiday with 27 people for 475 Euro. Then the holiday is a success.
When and where do you celebrate a holiday?
I am a workaholic. I always work. Often we drive to Rome for a few days or the Black Forest, but always only for three days. I don't need a week long holiday. I can relax in one hour.
In contrast to women, men rarely go for health checks. How do you see that?
I started my health checks at 50 and and do so every year. Many are afraid that the doctor might discover something. But you do that so that the doctor, if he detects something, it is detected early.
Do you receive a pension?
Yes, I am over 65. I receive about € 750 each month. Now you probably might think: that is enough to buy two bottles of good Bordeaux wine. (laughs).
I actually never smoked a joint. In Holland weed is smoked less than one thinks. Hash here is legal. I mean, it should be made available throughout Europe. That way we stay one step ahead of the criminals Of course one has to assure that youngsters do not use drugs or drink alcohol. These alcopops which many youngsters use, are dangerous. I do not allow the use of alcohol before a concert by my orchestra members,. When I catch someone drinking before the concert, he/she is fired.
Why don't you wear a wedding ring?
Once I was caught on a door with the ring. Since then I keep my engagement- and wedding rings on a golden chain in my violin case.
Will you join "Dschungelcamp"?
What is that?. That is a TV show, where less and well known artists ..... Oh yes, I have heard about that. No, of course not!
You breed Koi Carp. Some people eat such a noble fish as a delicacy.
I beg your pardon?? Under no circumstances! I would not even eat my two dogs!
When was the last time that you were drunk?
That was long ago. 30 years ago. I started at 5PM with gin. The next morning at 9AM I had an appointment with the Mayor. I felt so terrible that I said to myself: I will never do that again!
Would you like to have your last trip be accompanied by a waltz?
Last trip? I am not thinking about my funeral for a long time to come!!!
Thanks to John and Ineke for this long Translation!