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Jul 31, 2022

Pierre Rieu: "The most frequently asked question during guided tours?

 Pierre Rieu: "The most frequently asked question during guided tours? How to proceed when André is no longer there"

Pierre Rieu — photo Marcel van Hoorn 

Maastricht - We cannot call him the big man behind the scenes, although he is ultimately responsible for everything that happens around the Vrijthof concerts - the last ones are this weekend - of André Rieu. He works with a team of no less than 650 people, emphasizes son Pierre. "This is really a group performance. And every day of the concert we are amazed at what we all experience."

From "De Limburger" by Rob Cobben -These are the busiest weeks of the year for Pierre Rieu. But the 41-year-old son of the world-famous violinist and orchestra leader from Maastricht is particularly relaxed on the terrace of "Huis de Torentjes," the beautiful castle from the fifteenth century in the Sint Pieter's district where his parents live.

We meet on a day when there are no performances and no guided tours for concertgoers who have booked a VIP package, to which Pierre always is the host and guide. Those tours are only there on the days when there is also a concert, he explains. And invariably, they are always  full with 120 participants at a time.

Rieu fans can choose from three packages: an excursion in the studio and rehearsal rooms in Amby, backstage at the Vrijthof or one through the castle where also costumes from the orchestra members and even the maestro's can be viewed. Of course the latter option is the most popular.

Breath

So there is some time to catch your breath, although the fans of his father and his Johann Strauss Orchestra are never far away. "Look," says Pierre while pointing to the Lage Kanaaldijk at the foot of the monumental building on the eastern flank of Sint Pietersberg. Although the municipality has placed prohibition signs there a few weeks ago, a coach still stops there.

Dozens of people, who have cameras around their necks or a Smartphone in their hands, get out. And immediately begin to take pictures of the domain of their great idol. Pierre Rieu laughs. "I think this is very nice to see. How special it is that people from all over the world travel to Maastricht to come and see your father. They can spend their money on other things just a well, couldn't they?"

Valuable

He describes the contact with the fans as "very special and valuable."  "During these tours, they explain why they travelled to Maastricht. There are people who celebrate an anniversary, have been married for forty or fifty years, are retiring or have overcome an illness. Some stories make you really quiet. Everyone has a different reason for coming here."

They bombard him with questions, says Pierre Rieu. One that most often comes along is: "What about the Johann Strauss Orchestra when André is no longer here?" Then I always answer that with: "We are not working on that yet. That we live from day to day and enjoy all those beautiful moments. And I mean that sincerely. We are amazed every day by the concert and what we all experience."

     Photo by Marcel van Hoorn

His father still feels fine and is in an excellent condition, says Pierre Rieu. He lives a healthy life, has a personal coach and ensures in sufficient moments of rest. "But he will indeed turn 73 in October. That's a quite an age. That is why we are slowly reducing the number of concerts. A few years ago we were still at one hundred and forty gigs a year, now we are just over a hundred. And we want to end up somewhere around eighty."

Finals

On Sunday, the series of fifteen concerts at the Vrijthof in Maastricht will come to an end, good for a total of 180,000 visitors. Every concert evening there are 8800 people in front of the stage and another 3500 others who have bought a terrace arrangement at the catering establishments around the square. Never before has Rieu and his orchestra given so many concerts in a row in his hometown. He was allowed by the municipality to use the Vrijthof a few extra evenings, since the performances in 2020 and 2021 had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. Next year there will again be twelve concerts, just like before the corona pandemic.

Rieu and his orchestra travel all over the world, but the Vrijthof series are still the highlights of the year for orchestra and employees, says the son and production manager. "And that's certainly not just because we can come to work by bike. When we perform in Lisbon, there are only Portuguese in the room. And in Montevideo, the audience consists mainly of Uruguayans. But in Maastricht, almost the entire world comes together. This year we have guests from almost a hundred different countries. And that is very special. You also see friendships develop between fans of different origins."

Grander

Why all these people make the sometimes long and expensive trip to Maastricht, when they might also be able to see Rieu perform closer to home? "Because they find it special to see André in his own city. And because they know that the show here is bigger than anywhere else. During the concerts at the Vrijthof this time there are a total of 250 artists on stage. You can't experience that anywhere else."

Tickets for the fifteen concerts this summer had already gone on sale in September 2019. And no one returned their tickets after the forced cancellations in 2020 and 2021, says Pierre Rieu. And that also applies to all the other concerts which were planned in the rest of the world, for which a total of half a million tickets were sold. "The fans have stayed loyal to us. That has been a huge support to all of us. It has given us strength during those difficult pandemic years."

Photo Marcel van Hoorn

 Christmas concerts

There were exactly 1081 days between the last Vrijthof show in 2019 and the first of 2022. Sunday evening around midnight, the sixteenth concert series comes to an end on the most beautiful square in the world, as the orchestra leader himself calls it. In total, the counter stands at 115 open-air performances at that location. And after that? "Tear everything down and make the square beautiful. That's how it happens, because we work with a team that is a well-oiled machine. With all these employees, I could dare to organize any event anywhere in the world."

Then there will be a short holiday for the musicians and other staff - in total about 120 people - of André Rieu Productions. Starting at the end of September, another busy program awaits. With concerts in Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Israel, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.

And then in December will come the dessert again in Maastricht, with at least four Christmas concerts in the MECC, which will turn the venue into a fairytale décor. Pierre Rieu: "Because that's what we're good at: giving people the feeling that they've ended up in a fairy tale. And let them have a wonderful evening, so that they go home with a smile on their face."

Pierre Rieu with his father at the beginning of the Vrijthof concerts.

Photo Marcel Van Hoorn

 Thanks to John for this article and his translation     

Jun 26, 2022

"Always TOGETHER, With or without ANDRÉ RIEU’

 "Always TOGETHER, 

With or without ANDRÉ RIEU’

Chapeau, July 2022.

Text by Richard Stark. Kris Nemeth photography.

Not only musically but also socially, the Johann Strauss Orchestra is known as a close-knit company. In some cases, LOVE even plays a game. First violinist Frank Steijns (51) and mezzo-soprano Madieke Schoots (40) have been in the "couples of the orchestra" category for two years now.

 

Madieke Schoots arrives a little later in the town hall because she still had to pick up the wedding album at home. Because of that I meet  the multi-instrumentalist and city carillonneur of Maastricht first in the seventeenth-century town hall, his part-time workplace and their prior wedding location. "We are one of the many couples in the orchestra, but we are the couple that was married last," says Frank Steijns. When the two sit next to each other, just then you notice how their eyes shine and how they complement each other seamlessly. It wasn't immediately love at first sight when they met at a rehearsal of the Johann Strauss Orchestra in Maastricht.

“I hail from Tiel, studied in Utrecht, but was working in Amsterdam at the time,” says Madieke. "With André Rieu I could sing along as a substitute for a singer on maternity leave." Frank adds: “I was not really open for love because my work with André means that I am on concert tour all over the world 150 days a year, and then it often turned out to be difficult to enter into a relationship.” Although the two did not immediately fly around each other's neck, a time did come for them in which they always had nice conversations with each other about everything ans anything. “We also visited each other's concerts and –  coincidentely or not – when we made a date, there was always one table free and always exactley the same”, Madieke remembers in the very beginning.

In the fall of 2015, the musicians went on tour with André Rieu to Chile. “We were somewhat awkwardly around each while other orchestra members probably saw our infatuation a kilometer away,” says Frank. After the tour, Schoots resumed her work as a singer in the Randstad. Steijns went on tour with the orchestra. At the baggage claim at the Dublin airport It happened, he reconstructs. "André tapped me on the shoulder and said: "You don't look very happy Frank, is it because of me?" I replied: "Somewhat because it is getting serious with Madieke and I am dreading the fact being on tour so frequentl.y " That is not going to be the case."  Then André said: “Madieke, I know her from my concerts… Call her right away and tell her I'm offering her a one-year contract!” Well, since then we've been happily together for six years now,” which he briefly summarizes the couple's love story. "We are together on tour from morning till night and that is going well, perhaps also because we are both Capricorns, just like , by the way, thirteen other musicians in the orchestra." while Madieke is looking for an explanation. “The other orchestra members have also embraced us as a couple and we ourselves too like the fact that you share the same experiences as partners. You experience the same concert from a different perspective as a singer or violinist. You sometimes talk about that before going to sleep, but that's only fun.” Frank, laughing: “For observant visitors to the Vrijthof concert in Maastricht: when the orchestra starts “Falling in love” by Elvis Presley, we always look at each other in love.”

 

Violinist FRANK STEIJNS and singer MADIEKE SCHOOTS have been a couple for six years already.


 Prior to André Rieu's concerts on the Vrijthof, the Maastricht Salon Orchestra will play a private concert for VIP guests of André Rieu Travel, with Frank Steijns on the piano.

“VerrasSing” (Surprise) performs in the Cellebroederskapel in Maastricht on 10, 14 and 24 July.

During the past corona period, an ensemble arose in which the two participate: “VerrasSing”, a company consisting of Madieke Schoots and two other vocalists from Rieu's orchestra, with Frank Steijns behind the piano. “During that period, we also gave a concert together in Washington on the carillon that the Netherlands donated as a gift to America  after the war,” says Frank. Something similar also happened in the Maastricht city hall when we got married. “Our wedding took place in the middle of corona period and for that reason only five people were allowed into the tower. I alone was allowed to play the Wedding Bells of the carillon and Madieke sang along.” “We also gave each other our rings there,” says Madieke as she along with her husband  browse through the wedding album. “Our family received the ceremony via a video link. When we looked at the Markt through the reverberation holes, a big surprise came to us," says Frank. “Due to corona, the entire André Rieu orchestra  was spread all across the square, but as one big family, was with champagne at their fingertips applauding and enjoying the event.

 Thanks to Ineke for this article and her and John's combined translation

Apr 26, 2022

André Rieu: "I Would Like for Máxima to Waltz"

 

At The Theater on The Vrijthof

André Rieu: "I would like for Máxima to waltz"

 De Telegraaf/Privé. By: Harrie Nijen Twilhaar

The "King of the Waltz," André Rieu, will perform for a real King on King's Day in Maastricht! The world-famous orchestra leader hopes that Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will waltz in front of the stage to his musical notes. “I performed for many heads of state and dignitaries, but this is really special in my own city.” André Rieu is once again enjoying the performances he is allowed to give. King's Day in 'his' Maastricht will be a highlight for him.


It is a great honor for André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra to be able to perform for the royal family on King's Day. It will be the first time in more than two years that the "Waltz King" can show his skills again in his own city.

Three hundred members from different brass bands will meet the bus containing King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima, the princesses and other family members at the Sint Servaas bridge, the oldest bridge in the Netherlands. André Rieu will perform on Onze Lieve Vrouweplein (Our Dear Lady square) about halfway through the route. For him It feels special that he can perform as "Waltz King" for a real King and Queen.

When did you receive the invitation to play for the royal family during King's Day 2022?

“That was a while ago, even before corona threw a wrench in the works. We had received the invitation for this performance already more than two years ago. My orchestra and I consider it a great honor and we are very much looking forward to the concert. King's Day in Maastricht is of course something very special for all of us.”

 Which songs are you going to play?

“On the occasion of King Willem-Alexander's accession to the throne in 2013, we had the honor of performing in front of more than 60,000 people on the Museum square in Amsterdam. We then had a waltz composed especially for the royal couple. Of course we'll be playing that again now.”



How many times have you played for the King and Queen?

This will be the second time for King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, and for Princess Beatrix we  performed more often while she was still Queen. This took place, for example, in the caves of Valkenburg. I remember well that we were only allowed to play for half an hour. At the end of the concert Beatrix thanked us and said spontaneously that she thought it had been too short. Very funny!"



How special is it for you that the royal family is coming to Maastricht?

“It is of course a great event for our beautiful city. Moreover, it is a great honor that King's Day 2022 is being celebrated in Maastricht. We sometimes have the idea that the South of Limburg dangles a bit, but that feeling will disappear in one go after King's Day!"

Do you have that Orange feeling yourself? Do you follow the Royal House closely?

“Well, I don't follow them closely, but I do follow them with interest. My wife Marjorie and I as post-war children were raised with the royal family. Queen's Day was always an important highlight of the year. You decorated your bike with red-white-blue and orange, my sisters wore orange bows in their hair, and you sang “Orange boven” (Orange on high). A wonderful tradition at the time.”

Are the King and Queen allowed to dance a waltz when you perform?

"Yes, of course, we play a wonderful waltz, especially for the royal couple! I really hope they start dancing in front of the stage, that would be fantastic.”

It means an awful lot for you to perform in your own city anyway, doesn't it?

“On King's Day we don't play on the Vrijthof, but on the slightly smaller, but romantic and intimate Onze Lieve Vrouwe plein (our Dear Lady square). But wherever we play, in the summer on the Vrijthof or before Christmas in the MECC, it is always special to perform in our own city.” "We have been playing on the Vrijthof since 2005! Two years ago for the first time in the MECC  we gave fantastic Christmas concerts. They were so festive that I was convinced they would become a great new tradition, so we were already looking forward to the next performance, but then those concerts also had to be canceled due to corona. But we will definitely continue with them next December!”

You have missed the performances in Maastricht enormously.

“It was sad that they were not allowed to continue for two years. In July 2019, it was the hundredth and for the time being the last concert to be held on the Vrijthof. On that occasion, Mayor Annemarie Penn-te-Strake came on stage during the concert and presented me with a bronze plaque. It has been placed on the Vrijthof and can currently be admired. It was a very emotional moment and I was really blown away! At that time, we didn't know that for the time being,  it  would be the last Vrijthof concert. So I am really looking forward to the wonderful concerts there next summer.”

Have you played for other heads of state or presidents in the world before?

“As mentioned, for the then Queen BEATRIX, and once during the BBC's Royal Variety Performance for Queen ELIZABETH. We played for the former Chancellor of Germany, ANGELA MERKEL, on the occasion of a celebration. All the ladies were enthusiastic about the music! I have received the World Music Award twice in Monaco, in the presence of Prince RAINIER. That was quite an honor!”

The past two years have been "hell" for you and the orchestra because of corona. Can you describe how you feel right now?

"In heaven, ha ha!"

Are you with Marjorie and your sons Pierre and Marc already busy with the preparations for the summer concerts on the Vrijthof?

"Absolutely!!. I was already busy with the Vrijthof program two years ago . That's not a concert where a week in advance you think: "What are we going to do now, guys?'”

Are you going to go the extra mile this year?

“It will be more beautiful and grander than ever. We have a world premiere, namely a performance by a great European male choir with one hundred and fifty singers! For this special occasion, the “Mastreechter Staar” (Male choir from Maastricht) will be complemented by fantastic singers from the opera choirs of Amsterdam, Liège and Aachen. The shivers are already running down my body when I think of what it is going to sound like. This summer it will be a party to remember for the many tens of thousands of fans.”

 

Thanks to Ineke for this article and hers and John's combined translation

Apr 15, 2022

Carillonneur Frank Steijns to Perform May 5th in Washington DC

 

Thanks to Motörhead: carillonneur Frank Steijns will play the carillon on May 5th at the National Cemetery in Washington DC

"De Limburger," by Ivar Hoekstra

Carillon player Frank Steijns. Photo by Arnaud Nilwik

Carillonneur Frank Steijns (52) will perform on May 5th in Washington DC on the restored Netherlands Carillon for a Freedom Concert. "It will sound over the National Cemetery where so many lay who fought for our freedom. John F. Kennedy notably is also buried there, and that I may play there is a great honor," says the Maastricht native.

What a few minutes of video on YouTube can lead to. As a little something extra, Steijns posted a video on a social platform last summer wherein he plays on the carillon in Weert Motörhead's metal classic "Ace of Spades." together with guitarist Jitse Zonneveld. The video went viral and the band Motörhead was so impressed that they sent Steijns and Zonneveld a Motörhead T-shirt as a thank you. "Because of that video, the Dutch embassy in Washington came to me and invited me to play the carillon on May 5. They saw that clip and thought: Him, we must have! Then you realize how large a scope YouTube has."


Queen Juliana


The carillon in Washington DC is not just a carillon, it was the national gift of the Netherlands to America as thanks for the liberation. " Given by Queen Juliana during her first state visit to America. Only the carillon never did sound good, because the bells were poured by three different Dutch bell foundries instead of one, which is much better for the homogeneity of the sound quality. It was another typical Dutch polder solution: to distribute the assignment fairly and equally. Now the bells have been restored by bell foundry Eijsbouts in Asten, the Netherlands and finally they sound like they should."


The May 5th concert will be dedicated to freedom. "I am playing the carillon together with my American colleague Edward Nasser and my wife Madieke Marjon, will sing two songs from "The Bells."  Text by Edgar Allan Poe, in a composition for song and carillon which I wrote on behalf of Yale University."


Metallica

At the special request of the Americans, Steijns will also play some modern music. "Since in the US the combination of carillon with modern music is not well known, but they are curious about that. The first part will mainly be music to honor the dead, but in addition to that I will also play works by Glenn Miller, and the Stars and Stripes Forever March, so also some modern music pieces. I still have to make that selection, but I'm thinking about, for example, "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica. Also because this would fit very well in terms of the program."

According to Steijns, bells have been a symbol of peace and freedom for centuries. "Because in times of war these large copper bells were often the first victims, they were confiscated and melted down to make weapons. When the bells rang again, you knew the war was over. The carillon used to be the radio of the people. Napoleon stripped it of its ecclesiastical ties and the government then determined what was to be played on it and by whom. That is still the case, as a carillonneur I am also a civil servant appointed by the government."



There's something magical about hearing the carillon resound all over the city, because the richness of those bells is enormous.

Frank Steijns, carilloneur

Good times, bad times

The bells are increasingly playing modern music. That started in the early nineties with the carillonneur of the Utrecht Cathedral who at one point let the tune of "Good Times, Bad Times" reverberate over the city. Now it is very common to use the carillon for special occasions. "The people love it, the reactions are purely positive. I think it has to do with the contrast: bells, hundreds of years old, which were already sounding when the barge was still passing through the Meuse and people transported themselves by horse and cart through the city, that, since now those bells now are playing pop classics, which fascinates people. And at the same time, there's something magical about hearing them sound throughout the city, because the range of those bells is enormous. It is the greatest musical instrument that exists and really of a different order than a violin or a flute."

Education

As city carillonneur of Maastricht, Weert and Heerlen and he is also a violinist in André Rieu's orchestra, so Steijns is a busy man. Aren't there any new carillon players who can take some of the pressure off his shoulders? "There are two places where you can learn the profession of carillonneur, one in Utrecht and the other in Mechelen, Belgium. But the problem is that you can't practice at home. For that you have to go to a place where there is a carillon, which is a big hindrance. I now do have a student myself, the Russian soprano Anna Emelyanova."

When Steijns on May 5th is the first to bring the restored Netherlands carillon back to life in Washington DC, he will undoubtedly think of Motörhead for a moment, because the rendition of their metal classic put him on the radar of the embassy in Washington DC. "While I didn't really know the band well, it was Jitse who was the real superfan. But I still have the Motörhead T-shirt in my wardrobe and there will probably be an opportunity that I can play "Ace of Spades" and then I will definitely put on that T-shirt!"

The freedom concert with carillonneur Frank Steijns will be streamed on May  5th via the site of the Dutch embassy in Washington.

Thanks to John for his translation

*Note, May 5th in the Netherlands is celebrated as Liberation Day in WWII

Mar 31, 2022

André Rieu’s Orchestra Healthy Again


André Rieu’s Orchestra Healthy Again 

Three Were Really Sick

Limburger. By Timo Schmid, March 30, 2022.- André Rieu's dozens of Johann Strauss orchestra members are completely healed. Son Pierre Rieu says that about 40 orchestra members were infected with the corona virus in recent weeks, three of whom were really ill. Due to the corona infections in his team, André Rieu had to decide to cancel his tour in America and Canada.

40 Infections

The three who were really sick, had flu symptoms and were in bed with a fever for 2 to 3 days,” says Pierre. Meanwhile, everyone is healthy and well in the Netherlands again. Some of the orchestra members, because of the corona infection, had to "become well again" in America.

No More Test Evidence

What makes it extra difficult for the world famous Maastricht violinist, is that Canada no longer requires negative tests evidence from travelers as of  1 April 2022. Pierre said: “We all had to test and then suddenly we had 27 positive tests, while no one was bothered by anything. That meant the we could no longer enter Canada,” says Pierre. The concerts in North America will be caught up in September 2023.

Thanks to Ineke for the article and hers and John's translation

Feb 8, 2022

André Rieu and His Orchestra Will Be Giving Free Music Lessons

 André Rieu and His Orchestra Will Be Giving Free Music Lessons To Maastricht Children Who Grow Up In Poverty

André Rieu, Addie Redmeijer (left) in Rieu’s music studio.

February 1, 2022 De Limburger, by Merel Visscher. Photo credits: Harry Heuts: Using music to make social contradictions smaller. That is what violinist André Rieu has in mind with the free music lessons he wants to give to the underprivileged children of Maastricht.

“The goal is to introduce children, who are not familiar with music at home, to instruments and music”, Rieu explains. These lessons are paid for by Rieu himself, who is making four hundred thousand Euros available for this, together with a contribution from the Elisabeth Strouven Fund. The Maastricht violinist wants to start the lessons this year. Where the lessons will be given and which children are to be selected, will be worked out this year, together with Elisabeth Strouven and Addie Redmeijer of the welfare institution “Trajekt”.

Source

“The seeds for the idea were sown about four years ago”, say André and Marjorie Rieu. “We were visiting Annemarie Penn-te Strake and asked her how she felt about being the Mayor of Maastricht. She said she thought it was a great job, but she also found so much poverty in the city. We then started thinking about what we could do in that regard.” In the meantime, activities have been organized by the Rieu orchestra where children can get acquainted with music, but the plan is to tackle it structurally now.

Instrument

The orchestra members are also involved in the project. According to Rieu, many registered spontaneously. The music lessons are not one-on-one, but in groups. The children are immersed in the music and are allowed to choose an instrument themselves, under expert guidance, which they want to learn to play. “I get my inspiration from Venezuela, El Sistema. It is a huge success there.” "El Sistema" is free music education, set up in the slums in the 1970s by musician José Antonio Abreu.

Inventory

The problem, due to privacy legislation, was finding children who qualify for this, since the municipality is not allowed to just provide addresses. That is how Rieu came into contact with Addie Redmeijer, who assists Maastricht families in crisis situations through the “Trajekt” program.

Redmeijer: "I am active in every district of Maastricht, so I try to take inventory of which children would qualify for this. The music program is not intended to jump into the middle of Kumulus (music school)”, Rieu assures. “Many children who receive education at Kumulus come from an environment where music is already part of their life at home. This is about kids who don't. We think music can be of great help to these children in their lives.”


Thanks to Ineke for this article and her and John's combined translation

Record Number of Rieu Concerts At The Vrijthof

 Record Number of André Rieu Concerts At The Vrijthof

With the announcement of the 15th concert of the summer series on the Vrijthof in Maastricht, André Rieu is heading for a record. After two years of stagnation due to the corona crisis, the famous orchestra leader will give more concerts than ever before in his hometown.

 


Twelve concerts were already set for July 2022, and since most tickets sold in 2020 are still valid, there will be three new concerts added. The entire series of concerts starts on July 7 and will continue until July 31, with a break at the beginning of each week.

At every concert, about 11,000 people come to the Vrijthof, are on the square or the catering terraces.  This means that at least 165,000 fans from home and abroad will come to the Limburg capital this year. Especially for the hotels, restaurants and shops in Maastricht and surrounding areas, this is a welcome event after the successive lockdowns.

In the beginning of March 2020, André Rieu had to cancel his tour through America due to the outbreak of the pandemic. During the rest of the year he and his orchestra did not perform anywhere else. In 2021 he only gave four concerts in Lisbon, which were in the beginning of December.

This year looks better for the violinist. In February there are some performances planned in Spain, in March a tour through America is also planned and during the following months there are a lot of concerts on the program abroad, ahead of the Vrijthof summer event.

 Thanks Ineke for this article and John's translation

Dec 8, 2021

André Rieu Now I Am Living My Dream Again


Violinist André Rieu Now I Am Living My Dream Again


With his Johann Strauss Orchestra , André Rieu (72) normally travels all over the world and he draws full halls everywhere. For almost two years, the Netherlands' best-known artist was forced to stay at home. A huge task for someone who cannot sit still. Optimistic as he is, he's never lost hope. "Fortunately, Marjorie and I can put things well into perspective." 

Plus Magazine, December 2021, by Margriet de Groot.

 I used to be a dreamer and fascinated by everything you could make with your own hands. When I passed a construction site on my way to school, I could just forget about the time and stay there watching it for hours. My brother Robert and I had built a soapbox together, which we would forever tinker with. Whenever we had the chance, we always played outside and were being little hooligans, but I wasn't given much freedom as a child. Home felt like a monastery. My father was conductor of the Limburg Symphony Orchestra. My two older sisters, two younger brothers, my youngest sister and I all had to play an instrument. Not for fun, but as part of my upbringing. I found the violin by far the most beautiful instrument; that full string sound and the way all the bows in an orchestra moved up and down at the same time ........ wonderful. As a youngster I liked the second movement of the violin concerto the best, which is where the piece usually becomes soft and sensitive. I still and especially like melodic, romantic music which brings people to tears. Finger-snapping note-acrobatics does not do anything for me. As a five year old I received my first violin lesson. From that moment on I had to practice every day for at least an hour.  I would rather prefer to stand in front of the window dreaming away and just play beautiful music just by feel. Then the voice of my mother from downstairs sounded, and she commanded I practice scales and etudes. There was no appreciation for my musicality. My father was never interested in me or my music. In fact, when I started the salon orchestra after the conservatory, he disapproved of my choice of music. He has actually only been once to one of my concerts, and left half way through.


My Father has never been interested in me

My mother has never been. I followed my heart and feelings and that is against the classical music rules. It is considered a mortal sin when you, just like me, play only the nicest pieces from a symphony. My father not only disowned me as a musician, but also as a son. It was never right between us. Even on his deathbed he barely wanted to see me. My mother never mediated between us, she was even worse than he was. She never believed in me. I had a very strict and loveless youth. That I now can feel and express love myself, I think is because for the first three months of my life I was raised by a very sweet and warm neighborhood nurse. After giving birth, my mother was in the hospital with severe anemia. Your punch card is made for you during the first three months of your life. I owe a lot to my brother Robert, we formed quite a bond. I also had a special bond with my youngest sister. There is a 10 year age difference, and to me she was always "my doll" and I was sort of a father figure to her. Robert has really suffered due to the situation at home. He still has difficulties with it. I was able to put it behind me, thanks to therapy. And I can really recommend therapy to everyone. Together with my wife we spent four years in therapy. She too did not have a nice upbringing. We wanted to get rid of all that baggage before we would think about having children. The most important lesson is that you can't change the past nor the other person. Looking back doesn't do any good either, you have to keep going. Marjorie has been my salvation. When she entered my life, I went my own way. I still remember very well that when I said at home at the table that I was going to stay with Marjorie. It was as if I dropped an atomic bomb. I was already 24, 25 years old! I knew Marjorie for quite a while. She was in the same class with my  now deceased sister and came to our house frequently. Back then we already liked each other. Later, when I was studying at the Brussels conservatory, she visited me once and we started writing each other letters. Very long letters. She studied German and Italian and gave me a book as a gift by the German writer Thomas Mann. To impress her I wrote letters in his style. Nine months after her first visit, we were married.


Now I am living my dream again To play together with a tight bunch of musicians is what I have always wanted. My entire life. The atmosphere, contact with the public...all of the sudden corona took my dream away. Horrible!!! Everything I worked hard for all those years, stopped abruptly. We just kept moving tours around, or calling them off. Was it for just six months? One year? Two years?  No idea. But being very lucky that all my orchestra members are in permanently employment. They kept their wages and I had their guarantee that in the meantime they would not seek other employment.  The uncertainty of how long it would last was the worst. I am an entrepreneur and always think in terms of solutions. When there is a problem I am used to solving that. Now the problem was outside my control and I could not fix it. I am an event. My company costs me a million per month. When it runs, everything goes fine and there is no need to worry, but without Government subsistence we would not have made it. 

After we interrupted our American tour I had nothing left to do, so I started baking cakes at home. When abroad on tour I can never fall asleep right away after a concert. I find baking videos relaxing, and I have watched hundreds of them.  My favorites are those by Cees Holtkamp. Now I had the time, so why not get started? Every day I made a different cake to give away. I let Cees taste them and he informed me that I turned out to be quite a good baker. Everything I do, I do with pleasure, from playing the violin to baking cakes. It keeps me young and healthy. I always need to be busy and like to use my hands. What my eyes see, I make with my hands. I used to build everything from fences to houses, but since the time I almost lost my thumb, I've stopped doing that. Baking is safer for a violinist. I eat quite healthy, do not consume alcohol and work out three times a week  together with my son. During Corona I also started to learn Spanish, very convenient since we perform often in South America. 

The moment the RIVM (Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) allowed us to rehearse together again, was unforgettable. Goose bumps!!  And the funny thing is: it felt as we had never done anything else. It is so nice for all us to be able to make music together again. That gives me quite an adrenaline kick. We immediately made a CD, "Happy Together". It was done within a month. We thought that it was such a shame so we decided to make yet another CD.  We didn't have anything else to do. It turned out to be a  Christmas CD for next year, just to get into the mood.

That I have not become depressed lately is because Marjorie and I can place things very well into perspective. We are both full of life and apparently reinforce each other. She is very wise, I tend to go by my feelings, but always give her my ideas first. Although I have to be honest and say that most ideas are hers, and I execute them. We've always had a close relationship. I need that. I wanted to marry someone with whom I could do everything together, no matter what. Marjorie herself does not play an instrument, but listens to music the entire day. She was used to that at home, music there played an important role. At a totally different situation than at our house. For us, music meant hard work, there they listened with their hearts and enjoyed all sorts of music.

Later on I look forward towards our first concert in Maastricht. The plan is to give three big Christmas Concerts in the MECC. What a special and emotional reunion that will be with the audience. Christmas itself we are at home. We celebrate exclusively with our two sons, daughters-in-law and the grandchildren. The tradition is, the children do the cooking, which they do very well. Preferably we like to end our Christmas meal with a walk to the St.Peters hill. Wouldn't it be nice if this year it would be covered in white snow.

 Marjorie is very wise, I tend

 to follow my feelings more

 We are a close family, our youngest son Pierre  works in the company and with his family lives on our property. We are crazy about our grand-children but we immediately said that we would not become babysitting grandparents. We are much to active for that. Due to Corona we were forced to back-off, but soon want to go full speed again.

Stopping has never entered my mind. My work is too much fun. I want to keep making music, for as long as I live. And if possible, I would like to become 140, which means I am just halfway now. With the technical possibilities and medical developments of today, a lot is possible. They are working on advanced contact lenses that focus themselves, temper the light and determine from your eye fluid whether you suffering from an illness. They are also experimenting with a kind of small submarines which are injected into your body and they can heal you. I warmly welcome developments of this kind. I would be the first to stand in line for them. In 20 years we will probably be there. I will then still be on stage and still living in my dream.


André Rieu

(Maastricht 1949)

Studied violin at the conservatories of Liège, Maastricht and Brussels.

In 1978 he founded the Maastricht Salon Orchestra, which he extended in 1987 and changed it into the Johann Strauss Orchestra. Up until 1991 he was also a violinist in the Limburg Symphony Orchestra, which his father conducted for many years.

In 1994 he broke through with

"The Second Waltz"

His name has been well established worldwide. Yearly he and his orchestra travel with sumptuous decors across the world to sold out concerts.

His next performances in the Netherlands are "Christmas with André Rieu" on December 17, 18 and 19 in the MECC in Maastricht and a New Years concert on 8 January in the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam.

André is married to Marjorie and they have two grown up sons and five grandchildren.

Note: The Christmas Concerts n December and the New Years concert in January have all been rescheduled due to the Corona Virus.


Thanks to Ineke and Ruud for this article 

       And John's Translation.

 

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Pierre and André September 30, 2016 Maastricht

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Photo Taken at Mexico City Concert ~ September 2013

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"Hello to all my fans on The Harmony Parlor!"


Soundcheck in Maastricht 2013 (RTL Photo)



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

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

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