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Nov 5, 2017

André Rieu - "I'm a Very Strict Boss."

Pforzheimer Newspaper Interview With World Famour Violinist André Rieu!

"I am a very strict boss."

Interview with the world famous violinist André Rieu about tour rituals, noise and the reason of his great success in recent years. {From the Pforzheimer Zeiting (Germany)}. October 2017.)

André Rieu is the violinist of excellence. More than 35 million records sold, 600 platinum and gold awards and one million concertgoers yearly make the 68-year-old Dutchman the most successful violinist in the world. In 2018 he will again unpack his sinfully expensive Stradivarius dating from 1732 and on her will interpret the most beautiful waltzes of his idol, Johann Strauss.

PZ: Mr. Rieu, in 2017 you and your Johann Strauss Orchestra played in the USA, Chile, Mexico and England. Beginning January you will tour Germany and Austria. Do you bring something with you from every country?

André Rieu: I always bring gifts for my grandchildren! Otherwise, I keep all my experiences in my head and in my heart. This is the fourth or fifth time in Chile. Before that I always look in my archives, so that we do not play the same again. This time we had five sold-out concerts in a row. The Chileans are crazy about our music.

PZ: What cannot be missing on a tour?

André Rieu: My red couch! On tour we have a rhythm: At four thirty we arrive in the hall and have a sound check. Subsequently I will withdraw and sleep on my couch. I will not go on tour without it. I bought it in Münster, Germany. Everything you see on our stage we have four times. That's why I have four of them. We also always take the same German chefs with us on tour. It's almost like home.

PZ: What on your stage is forbidden? 

André Rieu: On my stage it is strictly forbidden to not play with one hundred percent input. But that does not happen. My musicians know that, and I cannot stand it when someone is not wholeheartedly involved.

PZ: Is it really possible to tell if a musician is really and emotionally involved? 

André Rieu: I hear it and I can tell whether a musician really and emotionally involved. or if he's doing something just because he has to do it. It is very important to be existential involved. Because that's exactly the reason for our success.

PZ: The German Bundestag recently decided the female quota for supervisory positions. Does your orchestra have a female quota? 

André Rieu: Yes, but not consciously. In my orchestra, about 70 percent are women. I enjoy working with female musicians because they are often faster, more honest and better than men.

PZ: What in particular do you pay attention to when looking for a new musicians for your orchestra? 

André Rieu: First of all, there are hardly any changes in my orchestra because everyone wants to stay. Namely it's a dream job to play with me. I'm proud to say that. It's a lot of fun to be on the road with these musicians. But when there is a change, I pay particular attention to the fact that he or she is wholeheartedly involved. Because then someone has the chance to survive with me.

PZ: Does it sometimes happen that a musician runs astray on tour? 

André Rieu: No, that has never happened before. I have to say, I am a very strict boss. But also a very good one. You have to follow the rules in my orchestra, but may sound like I'm a dictator. That's not me! For example, when traveling with such a large group, you have to be on time at the bus. Out of respect for the others.

PZ: You play on a 1732 Stradivarius. Do you have someone on tour who only cares for this precious instrument? 

André Rieu: Yes. When traveling there are many instances when I do not have my violin close to me. But I do not want her lying around somewhere. Such an instrument is not only worth a lot of money, but it also has idealistic and emotional values. I would like for the next generation to also be playing on it. I bought this Stradivari, but I feel more like its father than its owner.

PZ: Does your Stradivarius have moods like a diva?

André Rieu: Absolutely. It consists of centuries-old wood. Sometimes you play it in a cold, sometimes warm, damp or dry room. Not only does the violin react to that, but also the bow. Add to that also how you feel right now. Are the fingers loose? Is one rested? Everything works together and that generates a wonderful feeling.

PZ: The Stradivari also played on your latest album "Amore". What was so especially important for you with this record? 

André Rieu: If you listen to the record, you should be able to say: "My heart was touched!" For me that's the most important thing, that is what I want to convey with music. When I go to the studio with my orchestra to record a new CD, we always have a whole list of songs in our heads. But only 16 or 17 find their way to the record. On the first day in the studio I am always very nervous. It is, like having a baby. And then we begin, to shape the baby. When the individual pieces reach the heart, I've done my job right. I not only want every piece to be beautiful and perfect, but also a diamond.

PZ: Are you as a musician, really sensitive to noise? 

André Rieu: Yes, that's true. We recently played the opening music at the Televizier Ring Gala in Amsterdam. Afterwards there was a party, but I do not understand why there has to be so much noise. Dreadful! When I'm at home, sitting in the office with my co-workers, I'm the first to say, "Hey, the computer has to go! It makes me too much noise ". I like total silence since it promotes good health.

PZ: On tour, do you search for hotels that are very quiet? 

André Rieu: Yes. I always ask to turn off the noisy heater before moving into a room. I prefer to use two extra blankets. The first thing I do in a venue is take a tour. I want to see, hear and smell the venue.

PZ: If you work on something at home, do you listen to classical music? 

André Rieu: No, at home I definitely do not listen to any music at all. My wife says I'm like four Lipizzaner stallions. I am either running or sleeping. I never relax. But if I do, then I am asleep.

PZ: What did you personally learn from music for your life? 

André Rieu: That music is the most beautiful and valuable thing there is. For all forms of art, music touches the heart the deepest. On television, a man once told of the terrible things he experienced in his youth. And then he sang a song from before. You could see in him that music had a healing effect. I've seen people come to the concert hall in wheelchairs and walk out on their own two feet. While they were simply dazed by the music. Doctors wrote to me that my music has made their patients happy again. That's a big compliment for me.

PZ: Does your music have its own sound? 

André Rieu: Certainly. I am very proud that you immediately recognize, when listening to my CDs, that's André. I always play the music just as the composer meant it to be. Herbert von Karajan once was asked how he knew what the composer meant. He then said, "Listen, the composer composed it and is dead or gone now. But I'm the one who has to do it. Without a musician, there are only black lines on white paper. The musician has the responsibility and, hopefully, the knowledge to make these black lines on white paper come to live. And that's what we do."

PZ: Was it important for you to pass on your musical knowledge to your sons Marc and Pierre? 

André Rieu: I cannot say that I really wanted that. Had they asked me to show them everything, of course I would have done that immediately. But that was not the case. I gave both of them violin lessons, but they were not too enthusiastic about that. So I told them: "Do what you like to do," and that is what they did.

PZ: Did your sons rebel against you during their puberty and fill your house with loud techno, heavy metal or hip hop? 

André Rieu: Of course they did. One of my sons had bright white hair from one day to the next. Of course he did that to shock us. And it even looked good on him! My sons were allowed to listen to other music at home, but my father only allowed classical music. The Rolling Stones and The Beatles were not allowed in by us.

PZ: As a teenager, did you rebel against your parents?

André Rieu: Hardly. Later on I lived out my puberty together with my wife, who also had a very strict father. Three weeks were enough.

PZ: How do you place yourself in a creative state?

André Rieu: I think I'm pretty creative by nature. I do not have to place myself in a certain condition. It works on its own. You think I'm Dutch and smoke marijuana all day? No, I do not do that!

PZ: Have you ever seen a coffee shop from the inside? 

André Rieu: No, never. I do not care about that stuff. And neither do my sons.

PZ: What is typically Dutch about your art? 

André Rieu: We Dutch are relaxed and humorous. That's how we are on stage. That is perhaps the reason for our success. We can combine humor and seriousness without lowering the standards.

PZ: What can you say about your tour?

André Rieu: You can look forward to an unforgettable evening. With a lot of fun, tears, dancing and singing. Normally, with a classical concert, you first look at the program, which orchestra is playing, which conductor and soloists are performing. In my case, people only know that André is coming with his orchestra. Yes, we have to go there!

Author: The interview was conducted by Olaf Neumann.Thanks to Ineke for this article and her translation with John's assistance. 

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