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Jun 20, 2016

The Dream Factory of Rieu and Son Pierre

Rieu and Rieu Keep Each Other Sharp
Dream Factory of Rieu and Son

June 18, 2016 by Arno Gelder - From the Limburg News and AD Newspaper Passport: André Léon Marie Nicholas Rieu, born Oct. 1st 1949 in Maastricht. Son of a conductor of the Limburg Symphony Orchestra, studies the conservatory, founded in 1978 the Maastricht Salon Orchestra. His passion for the Viennese waltz resulted in the forming in 1987 of the Johann Strauss Orchestra. He scored a hit in 1994 with the Second waltz of Shostakovich. Travels the entire world with his orchestra. Privately: Married to teacher and author Marjorie and is father of 2 sons: Marc and Pierre.

Passport: Pierre Rieu, born June 24, 1981 in Maastricht. Studied law, but built a career at André Rieu Productions Company. There he organizes everything which is nonmusical. According to his father he is indispensible, he is an all-round genius. Privately: Married and father of the twins Linde and Lieke.
Pierre can be annoyed by his father's determination. André thinks that his son is "a very sweet boy".  Pierre does not interfere with his father's music, that is the agreement. But IF he has comments, André takes him serious. "Without one minute the CD recordings were in the trash".

First there is "Vlaai". Of course! Cherries with whipped cream. A visit to the Rieu castle, the picturesque "Huis de Torentjes" (house of the turrets) at the foot of the Pieter's Mountain in Maastricht, is not complete without the Limburg delicacy. André and Pierre receive the visitors the traditional way in the salon with the golden curls, mirrors, ornaments, paintings and pink ribbon, a part of Schönbrunn Palace in the south of the Netherlands.

André (66) and Pierre (34) are not only father and son, but also president manager and vice president of André Rieu Productions, with 110 employees. And also they are neighbors, sport partners and best friends. "I live just 20 seconds distance from dad" says Pierre. "When he returns home from far away, he passes by my house. He is not allowed to stay here too long, because then we have an issue with my mother". André admits: "Then Marjorie gets grumpy. After many weeks abroad she likes to embrace me first! But when I see Linde and Lieke ... that is a feeling of constantly being in love".

Outwardly their resemblance is striking. His other son Marc (37) father of his other 3 grandchildren and a painter, is more like Marjorie. Also inward André and Pierre have certain similarities. For sure they share one trait: Perseverance. An extremely tough kind of tenacity that defines the continuous success of the family business, which substantially lets the entire planet waltz. From Belfast and Bucharest to Melbourne and Mexico City. Everywhere fans are dancing at the romantic melodies of the Viennese waltzes. Together with a few Dutch Disk Jockeys, the Maastricht violinist and his Johann Strauss Orchestra belong to the best musical export products of the Low Lands, for many years.

Pierre: "My father is a perfectionist and a goer. That's what I admire in him. At the same time, I can be annoyed about his perseverance. Sometimes I think: Please just let it go ..."

André: "Pierre is a very gentle person. Preferably he would help the entire world. That's what I think is important. Our company cannot be without him. He is an all-around genius. He started at the bottom of the ladder, now he has reached the management level. He can do an amazing amount of things at the same time. If I say: "Did you think of this and that.." then it's already done. In a moment... at his smartphone under the table.

When André Rieu and his orchestra traveled to the United States for the first time, there were three tour busses waiting for them in New York, which had to be insured. "Nobody seemed to be crazy about the risk of insuring all three busses and an entire orchestra with all the instruments. Pierre traveled a few days earlier to the USA, searched the entire city and found an insurance company which was willing to insure us. He had just turned 19 and worked with me only 6 months. Believe me, he is a goer, like his father".

If private and business are so entwined, doesn't that cause problems?
Pierre: "In the beginning it was difficult. When I had worked through all layers of the company, my dad gave me the leadership. I got introduced to the staff. "My" staff, because suddenly I was the boss. I remember that mom and dad had tears in their eyes. And me? I almost felt like diarrhea was going to run down my legs ... I had to create my own style and system into the company. After three weeks I saw my father change into an employer: "Why is this not ready, why is that not done?" Then we had a good conversation to clear up the work balancing. I deal with everything, except the music. From the technique to the décor, to the filming by a drone.

André: "And sometimes also with the music ... " We have big plans to really conquer the United States next year. We are fully supported by our record company. To support the American tour, which will start in 2017 the proposal was to create an album with a focus on the waltz purely as a dance. Not the flamboyance of the Blue Danube, but dance music in a tight triple time. The CD was almost finished, when Pierre said: "You should not do that, dad, it's not the music of YOU". That's what I needed to hear: within one minute the CD was in the trash.

Sure we were successful at the other side of the ocean before. But it was too modest, in André's opinion. Last year they spoke to Lucian Grainge, the absolute supreme God of Universal Records, which has been Andrés record company for 20 years. The boss owes you something, he said. "We're gonna do our very best to make it work this time". In 1995 the then director of Universal Netherlands visited the American headquarters. "I have got something nice for you", he said. "A violin player who sold 900.000 CD's in Holland". They stared out of the window and said: "Holland? where's Holland?". We should first prove ourselves to another continent. We succeeded, even on multiple continents. But, as André concludes, "You do not conquer the USA in one afternoon". Pierre adds: "You have to arrange everything by yourself. Making phone calls, sending mails, being there. If you call the producer of Ellen Degeneres or Dr. Phil, they say: "André Who?". Or the usual: "Don't call us, we'll call you ..." If you talk during a conference call about Holland, they ask: "Holland Nebraska?" If you talk about Sydney, they say: "Oh, you mean Sidney Ohio?"

In early days we concluded that British people live on an island,  but also do the Americans. Only their island is much bigger!!

North Pole
From where does this urge to spread the happy waltz message all over the world come from? Even in space! André Rieu still wants to be the first man to play on the moon as he announced a few years ago. A performance on the North pole has been placed into a fridge, but don't be surprised if he suddenly plays in a gigantic igloo on the arctic continent. Pierre: "This is dad. As a young boy he had a dream: bring the music to the people. Although we sometimes cannot cope with this, he likes to realize his ultimate dream". André: "This urge comes from the way I have been raised. I come from a family where classical music dominated in its elitist form. My grandma only listened to music on the radio when she knew who played the piano. "Granny", I thought, "who cares, just enjoy". "If I come home and walk past Pierre's house, I sometimes hear one of the girls playing the piano. So nice! I then get tears in my eyes. In my days it was: "Haven't you practiced yet?" Pierre does not push them. That’s how it should be with music: don't pay attention to the musical notes and errors". Just let those kids go. Regularly I am asked as a judge in a musical contest. I decline these invitations. Music is not a contest. Teachers at the conservatory may judge. I don't tell a child that plays well, that 'John' plays even better. That’s not my style. I hated snobbism from a very young age. I cannot stand that some people feel themselves better than others. When Marjorie came into my life I felt: this is pure, without false pretentions. I have passed that on to my boys. And I hope as a grandfather to pass that on to my grandchildren as well".

Pierre: "Only for the photographer I wear this shirt. I prefer to wear a T-shirt with as many holes and stains as possible. Until my wife says: "Don't you have a meeting with an external relation in the office? Please get changed".
André: "Prejudices do not exist in my and Marjorie's life. Those are disastrous, you ruin so much with them. I never look down on people. I don’t care who is sitting in the hall. Baker, mason worker, solicitor, doctor, they are all equally dear to me. For all counts: Open your heart and enjoy".

Pierre: "The classical establishment pukes at you and the pop circuit envies your success. Classical musicians play in an orchestra which depends on subsidies. They see your ensemble travel all over the world. In packed halls without any subsidy".
André: "There are enough people from the classical world who appreciate me. I had a great compliment from the Israeli violin player Maxim Vengerov. And from Zubin Mehta, a famous Indian conductor. Those are no small names".

Meetings will take place in Rieu's home, where also the offices are located, but as minimal as possible. The top brass of the company will meet each other on the stairs or in the corridors. "If I was changing the diaper of one of my girls, we exchanged information at the dresser". Pierre said.

Additional advantage of the intimate bond between father and son is that Pierre keeps an eye on his father's health. In the beginning of 2012 André was struck by a burn-out. I note that it will never happen again. It is annoying when I get a muscle strain, but when he gets a shoulder injury we'll have a big problem. We are working out together, led by a personal trainer. I may say: an executioner! Ruud Gransier is doctor, nutrition and exercise expert. Just this morning I said to Marjorie that he has kept me free of injuries for the last 4 years. Don't be mistaken: I have a standing profession, I stand on stage for hours. I cannot even sit down, with my tuxedo ...

By the way: according to him I have a body of a 40 years old. The diet has changed completely. Nowadays I eat rye bread with smoked beef. That's it."
Pierre: "Mwahhhhhh...."

André: "If I see a piece of French cheese at the catering table after the concert, I smell it and decide if it is worth to become overweight from it. Well, every now and then I can take something nice, under the condition that I keep moving. No one can constantly maintain a strict diet".

Pierre: "True. Movement is the most important. I eat seven times a day because I keep on moving all the time. In the morning I start with oatmeal, yogurt and grapefruit. In between I sometimes eat canned tuna. I feel great, I am never hungry. It only works if you are not staring on the couch at Netflix seven hours a day ..."

André: "It is wonderful to work with your son. We are grateful to live here. Earlier people asked me: "Why don't you move to Monaco?" I never considered that. From the bottom of my heart I can say that it is not fair. No tax paradises for me. When everybody should pay their taxes, everything should be solved. I could not live without the Netherlands, without Maastricht, for sure.

 Thank You to Ineke for the Translation!


Anne Buch said...

What a wonderful interview. Thank you so much for translating Ineke. That's hard work <3

Francine Chavanon said...

Magnifique et intéressant interview. André démontre une fois de plus l'importance de sa famille dans sa superbe carrière. Sa musique est un tel bonheur pour son public et je pense que son talent est sublimé par le soutien que lui apporte son entourage familial. Bravo à tous et bonne continuation à ce formidable JSO qui est pour moi,le plus merveilleux orchestre que j'aie jamais entendu. GOD BLESS YOU rt à bientôt sur le Vrijthof, en juillet prochain ! Francine.




Pierre and André September 30, 2016 Maastricht












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Maastricht 2012 ~ "André and Pierre on The Theater Steps" by Bee