André Rieu Gives Queen Elizabeth II a Waltz As a Birthday Gift
Good evening and welcome, Mr. Rieu.
André Rieu: Hello.
►First of all, let's listen to the beginning of the waltz. A beautiful trumpet chorus, very royal. Are you happy with it?
André Rieu: Yes, I see the queen entering ... No, now she is entering.
►A little bit louder please. Yes, this is very royal too.
André Rieu: At least I see her stride in, with her entourage.
►It seems to be a party to create this and that you know exactly what is happening
André Rieu: Yes, it is a lot of fun. I always compose together with Frank Steijns, a violinist in my orchestra. He is on the piano and I am with my violin and that's how we compose some nice things a few times a year.
►Do you know in advance, what you have in mind of what is going to happen when you compose the music on these images? Or is it the other way around.
André Rieu: Yes, of course you have an idea of what you want. We would love to see the British Queen enter and then something like this just flows out. And then the nice thing is that I immediately can try it out with my own orchestra. That is a very nice and luxurious situation.
►I understand that you have had previous contact with the Queen?
André Rieu: Yes, that is right, we played for her and that was also immediately my break-through in the UK, on the Royal Variety Show in Blackpool. She was in the audience. We played for her and after the show all artist were introduced to the Queen and she said: "Beautiful melodies, sir".
►In a while more about the Royal Variety Show of which we have some recordings, but first we are wondering: Did the Queen request you to compose a waltz, or is it your present to the Queen?
André Rieu: That is a present to the Queen.
►Is she going to judge it and will you receive an assessment?
André Rieu: I hope she will get a chance to hear it and that she likes it. I even hope that maybe we can play it for her live.
►So you have a little bit of a history together, but do you also have a love for the British Royal family?
André Rieu: I am a monarchist. All royal families. I don't hide that. We just returned from Bangkok where we performed. There is also a kingdom and you notice that when you are in those countries. It's like glue which keeps the people together. Of course Thailand is a completely different country than the Netherlands and a completely different country than the United Kingdom. But I always say when they have a republic, a boring republic, like Germany and France - you should take a King or a Queen, just like the one we have.
►I can imagine that. Back to the design table. How did you start? What did you think? How do you imagine that?
André Rieu: You mean with the waltz? We had the idea to compose a waltz because of her 90th birthday. Then we just start.
►You just start? There must always be a first note, a first instrument.
André Rieu: Yes, listen, you are creative or not.
►We know you are, you don't need to prove that.
André Rieu: That's why I say: "We just start and it will just come." And now we have the tools to immediately record our improvisation. Then we decide: this is nice, that is not. That is how it grows. I think we worked on it for two days and there it was.
►I try to imagine how composing works. I always find it interesting. You are there with two people. Who begins?
André Rieu: Together. Of course. It has to click, otherwise it does not work. We smile at each other, saying: "Hey, that is nice, nice bars, good harmony, and that is how it grows. " You just have to want it, tomorrow at four we get together and we'll create something beautiful for the Queen, and that is how it goes.
►And then you are busy with that for awhile.
I imagine Mr. Rieu dancing with the Queen.
André Rieu: So nice that you selected this part, because the sound you hear now is what I had in my mind first. I said to Frank: "We need to create a real English ballroom sound. Many strings playing a compacted harmony, almost in close harmony. Many strings and that is what this sound became.
►And what was that that we just heard?
André Rieu: The beginning of the waltz. The trumpets are making the announcement: "Here comes the Queen!!!". Then the door opens and there she enters. She takes Philip and starts to waltz.
►Your main role model is Johann Strauss Junior and Queen Victoria loved to dance to his music. At that time it was secretly done because the waltz was something immoral, is that true?
André Rieu: Yes, that is true. It was even forbidden! Before the waltz, was the minuet. You stood 10 feet away from each other, no touching each other at all. Then all of the sudden they had the idea to start waltzing, and that was body against body. And that of course could not be! The church banned the waltz, also in the UK. But queen Victoria did not care. She liked it and waltzed all night long. Her court was already lying under the table, but she went on. That was the beginning of the waltz.
►And now it is normal, also for the royals?
André Rieu: Well, now it is even considered to be a corny dance as they say, and I would like to revive it a little. And that is what I am doing.
►In the meantime, does the queen know that you composed this present for her?
André Rieu: I have no idea.
►Would you like to know it?
André Rieu: Yes, of course. Every day I am excitedly waiting for her telephone call.
►You did not call, mail or send her a message?
André Rieu: No, I don't have her number.
►For sure you are one of the most famous international artists there. No lack of attention there.
André Rieu: No, it is very nice. We have been playing in the UK for 6 years in a row now, always in the month of December. Ireland and the UK - we tour all big cities. Very nice. Wonderful audience.
►The BBC said that you have a larger audience than Justin Bieber.
André Rieu: Yes, we can't complain. The 2016 and 2017 tours have already been confirmed and we are busy with 2018. We love to play there.
►You broke a record in 2012 with the album "Forever Vienna". Number 2 in the British charts. Who was number 1?
André Rieu: I think "TakeThat."
►It's not a shame to lose to them.
André Rieu: I thought it was "Take That" or "Robbie Williams" ... one or the other.
►In 2009 you performed for the queen in the Royal Variety Show. When playing the Radetzky March, the audience immediately went crazy with that kind of music.
André Rieu: This is the Radetzky March, composed by Johann Strauss junior's father. He composed it when the Habsburg Empire suppressed a bloody revolt in Italy. (General Radetzky was in command). And to celebrate the victory, he composed the Radetzky March. And with my concerts many balloons come down ... So that is why the march is always so available.
On The Telephone: Simone, royalty expert ...
Good evening! AR told us about queen Victoria who danced all night long. What do you know about queen Elizabeth's preference for music?
We don't know much about that. Music is important in her life, she is constantly surrounded by music. It starts at 9 AM with a bagpiper playing under her bedroom window. Each morning, for 15 minutes.
André Rieu: Poor queen!
And she often hears brass bands when she goes somewhere, so music is a big part of her life. But her biggest hobby remains to be the horses! It's been said that she loves most light classical music, like operettas, musicals, even musicals from the 40's and 50's. But not opera or heavy classical music.
André Rieu: Well, then we are a perfect match!
Yes, she loves rhythm. Sometimes it is seen that she taps her feet with the music, like brass bands. Once she visited a Baptist Church in the US where a very enthusiastic choir was singing and there she too tapped her foot along with the music. So at certain times, she does appreciate music very well.
André Rieu: As long as she taps in rhythm.
Thank you Simone, thank you Mr. Rieu.
Thanks to Ineke for the Radio Interview and to John for Translating it for us.