André Rieu – Biography
1949André is born under the sign of Libra as his parents’ third child. His parents and their two young daughters had moved from Amsterdam to Maastricht shortly before. (André later got two brothers and another sister). To the present day, André Rieu has been at home in the beautiful capital of the Dutch Province of Limburg, namely in Maastricht.
1954André, his brothers and sisters grow up exclusively with classical music: symphonies, chamber music and opera.Encouraged by his father, a professional conductor, André starts taking violin lessons at the age of five. A.R.:“I had great difficulty concentrating at the start.That was because my violin teacher was so beautiful and so blonde that I fell in love with her and stared at her all the time,instead of listening to her instructions!”
1967After leaving grammar school, the talented young man first continues his musical training on the violin at the conservatoire in Liège and later in Maastricht (until 1973).His teachers are Jo Juda and Herman Krebbers.
1974André Rieu moves to the conservatoire in Brussels, where he receives violin tuition from André Gertier.
1975Still a student, André marries his “great love”, Marjorie.
1977André Rieu concludes his musical training with distinction (Premier Prix) at the conservatoire in Brussels.
1978Their first son is born. His name is Marc. In the same year, André Rieu founds his first orchestra, the Maastricht Salon Orchestra, with which he appears in the Netherlands, the Federal Republic of Germany and even the United States. At the same time (until 1989) he is engaged as a violinist in the Limburg Symphony Orchestra.
1981André’s and Marjorie’s second son, Pierre, is born.
1987André recruits his Johann Strauss Orchestra. A.R.:”At that time, we rehearsed for 6 months before getting started. There were just twelve musicians in the beginning. Today, there are 43, and sometimes even 50 on very large stages. “In the same year, the new orchestra leader and his wife found the André Rieu Productions company.
1988 New Year’s Day is the big moment: André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra give their first public concert. This is soon followed by brief tours, also through the Benelux countries and the Federal Republic of Germany.
1994The “From Holland with Love” album is released in the Netherlands and something happened that no one would have thought possible: it triggers a waltz wave and the definitive breakthrough for André. One of the pieces on it is the “Second Waltz”, a beautiful, melancholy waltz. The piece is originally called ‘Waltz No. 2 from Jazz Suite No. 2′ by Dmitry Shostakovich, but it would probably never have been a hit with a title like that. Marjorie came up with the name ‘Second Waltz’ at the time, and that’s what it became famous as. “From Holland with Love” soon headed the Top 100 in the Netherlands and stayed in the Top 10 for over a year.
1995At an international football match in Amsterdam stadium, André fills the half-time interval with the “Second Waltz”. The fans in the stands sway in time with the music and hum along enthusiastically, as do the TV viewers. While Ajax eventually wins the match against Bayern München, André Rieu gains thousands of new followers. After an initial concert in Hamburg’s Musikhalle and several television appearances, the “From Holland with Love” album is also released in Germany, where it instantly heads for the charts and gets into the Top 5 with ease. It stays for months in the weekly hit list compiled by Media Control and receives several gold and platinum disks.
1996André Rieu is dubbed the “Modern King of Waltz” by the media and next launches the “The Vienna I love” and the live “In Concert” albums on the European music market. Again, he can assert himself in the charts in many countries, even against international pop icons like Madonna, for example. Also in 1996, André Rieu received the World Music Award in Monte Carlo.
1997André Rieu has little time for his private life and family, as he is permanently on the road with the Johann Strauss Orchestra. An extensive concert tour takes the charming orchestra leader and his musicians across half of Europe. Still, he takes the time to record “The Christmas I love”.
1998On the “Romantic Moments” album, André puts the emphasis on dreamy, romantic melodies. The tone is set by the “Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet”. In addition, André Rieu this time comes up with classical pieces, such as the “Etude op.10? by Chopin, Mozart’s “Adagio” and the melancholy “Far From Home Largo” from the From the New World symphony by Antonín Dvorák.
1999To mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Johann Strauss (3 June), André Rieu brings out the “100 Years of Strauss” album. Finally, André and his orchestra take their leave of the millennium with the CD entitled “Celebration”.
2000André releases “La vie est belle”. “Composing is something I’ve really been doing all my life. As a child, I tried to invent pretty melodies, first for the violin and then also for the piano. This is the first time that I’ve released a waltz on CD that I composed together with my brother, Jean-Philippe: La vie est belle!” says André Rieu.
2001First tour in Japan. Construction of André’s own recording studio – allowing him to produce CDs, DVDs and Television-specials. The first product made in his own studio, ‘Dreaming’, proves a great success.
2002André’s son Pierre joins the business, with responsibility for all technical production aspects of the concerts and recordings. The second product from André’s studio “Walzertraum” is issued in 7 versions all over the world!
2003The tour in Japan is extended to include 17 concerts in 11 different Japanese cities. As André is celebrating 25 years on the stage, an anniversary CD is released in the autumn: Romantic Paradise. To include his fans in the celebrations, André makes Romantic Paradise into a double CD, one of the two CDs being a gift. The CDs are enormously successful. The Romantic Paradise Special is recorded in Tuscany, Italy. André invites his fans to come from all over the world to attend the recordings for the special – three concerts – all for free. Later in the same year preparations begin for a 2004 USA and Canada tour.
2004Early in 2004 the Romantic Paradise Special is nominated for the Rose d’or. In July, André gives a spectacular concert for an audience of 18,000 in the Parkstad Limburg Stadium in Kerkrade. This performance results in a CD and a DVD: The Flying Dutchman.
2005After the traditional New Year’s Day concert in the Cologne Arena on 1 January and a successful winter tour of Germany, Austria and France, in the spring of 2005 the ‘Flying Dutchman’ flies with his orchestra to the USA and Canada for an extensive tour of 19 concerts. After another successful tour, André shakes his home town of Maastricht to its foundations with three fabulous summer concerts on the Vrijthof Square. A CD and DVD of these concerts will be coming out later on this year.
2006The year 2006 began in the traditional way with winter tours in Germany and France. In April and May André tours through 25 cities across the USA and Canada. In July the brand-new André Rieu office opened in New York and André recorded a fabulous TV-special on the square in front of Schönbrunn Palace; it turned out to be the biggest production ever undertaken within the André Rieu concern.
Within a week André was waltzing his home town of Maastricht off its feet with three midsummer night concerts ending with a special appearance from the Harlem Gospel Choir. One week after that the same choir joined André on the stage in their own home town, New York, where a second special was recorded in the famous Radio City Music Hall. Both specials appeared on DVD; the new CD reflected the New York special. September: 4 concerts in Tokyo. October, November, December: concerts on the west coast of the USA, in Canada, Germany and Belgium. André Rieu is living up to his nickname of the Flying Dutchman more than ever before!
2007A report of the 2006 American tour was broadcast on Dutch television as a series of six programmes from January. Later these were issued as a DVD entitled ‘André Rieu on his way to New York’. In March André Rieu and his orchestra toured through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and France, followed by a spring tour through America and Canada. As in previous years, once again André gave a number of summer evening concerts at the Vrijthof square in Maastricht. September saw André Rieu performing with the Harlem Gospel Choir at the Gelredome in Arnhem. A concert at the Efteling amusement park was broadcast in two parts on German and Dutch television. A reality TV show was made about the preparations for this special. In the autumn André Rieu visited Australia to promote his 2008 concerts, which brought on real Rieu mania: in October André became the first artist in history to have 9 DVDs in the top 10!
Next the double CD and DVD ‘In Wonderland’ was recorded in the Efteling amusement park. On 14 and 15 December André Rieu performed at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada, the largest indoor stadium in the world, in a Viennese evening set in a reproduction of Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace. This was the kick-off for the big ‘World Stadium Tour: A Romantic Vienna Night’.
2008The grand World Stadium Tour ‘A Romantic Vienna Night’ came to Europe too! With a set featuring a life-size replica of the imperial Schönbrunn Palace (the world’s biggest mobile stage) André Rieu and his Johan Strauss Orchestra performed together with more than 250 artists in Düsseldorf, Leipzig, Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels. The concerts were a great success. The concerts featured the Platinum Tenors, the Vienna State Opera Ballet, 80 Vienna Debutantes, the golden coach with the Empress Sisi and Emperor Franz-Joseph and the Vienna Figure Skating Association.
In March André Rieu set a new record in Australia when the millionth item was sold. Australia is entirely under the spell of André Rieu. On 7 April 2008 André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra received the golden Medal of Honour from Mayor Gerd Leers of Maastricht – the greatest distinction the city can offer. The autumn was all about Australia. Rieu broke record after record with sales of his CDs and especially DVDs. He was the most successful artist in 2007 and in 2008, with more than 2 million copies sold by the end of 2008.
From mid November Rieu toured Australia with more than 500 people, taking the replica Schönbrunn Palace with them. Almost 300,000 people came to his concerts ‘down under’. The Melbourne concert, attended by more than 38,000, was broadcast live on Australian and Dutch television. The DVD ‘Live in Australia’ was released worldwide. 2008 was a top year for André Rieu and his orchestra. At the end of the year he was the only classical musician in the top ten of the Pollstar list – the important annual ranking of best-selling worldwide touring acts. The only artists above the King of Waltz were big names like Madonna and The Police.
2009Following tradition, 2009 began with the successful New Year concerts in the Köln Arena, followed by a tour through Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In March a Japanese tour was planned. For April, May and June, Rieu again did a tour of America and Canada for 24 concerts. At the end of 2009, Rieu did Australia, this time with an arena tour through all the big cities. By the end of January the tour was practically sold out. In the cities of Melbourne and Sydney there was the possibility of extra concerts.
André turned 60 and became a grandfather no less than three times! He rose 2 places to number 6 in the Billboard Chart for best-selling tours worldwide. In America he was again the best-selling classical artist of the year. In December André performed alongside artists such as Lady Gaga & Michael Bublé for Queen Elizabeth II of England.
2010Following the performance for the British queen, this year André also performed for the Dutch Queen Beatrix in the caves of Valkenburg. This was on the occasion of the 125-year anniversary of the Dutch tourist office organization (VVV). In April, André conquered South Africa. In spite of a difficult departure from Europe due to ‘volcanic ash’ it was a successful tour with concerts in Sun City, Durban and Cape Town. Also this year a soap opera was produced about the preparations from this South African tour; “André Rieu on the road to South Africa”.
In January, André broke the 20 year old record set by Nigel Kennedy in England by being the first artist to reach no. 2 in the pop charts with a classical album. André preformed at the Classical BRIT Awards and an English tour is planned for September. As if this wasn’t enough, there are another 2 tours planned in the US and Canada this year, a tour in Australia and New Zealand, and he is giving no less than 8 concerts at the Vrijthof in Maastricht. On June 11 a TV special was made on the German ‘flower island’ Mainau. André received a number of honors including a Multi Platinum Award in South Africa and the European culture prize (Medaille Charlemagne) for bringing so many people together.
In august André is felled by a viral infection. For the first time in his 32-year career he must cancel concerts due to illness. In November he resumes his tour with a concert in Antwerp followed by his first Mexico tour.
2011In the first months André and the JSO give concert in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark. From
André releases the DVD Fiesta Mexicana! – a documentary and concert of his 2010 Mexico tour. In July the book André Rieu: The person behind the phenomenon is released. It is made by Dutch top photographer Govert de Roos, who describes the book as “A journey of 1000 days with André Rieu”.
In April André get’s a phone call from Anthony Hopkins – The Academy Award-winning actor has written music for many years, but composed his latest piece “And The Waltz Goes On” with Rieu specifically in mind to perform it. Rieu was so enthusiastic about the work that he immediately set plans in motion to record it, moving Hopkins’ wife to tears during the initial performance of the tune.
“I’ve been a great admirer of André Rieu for several years. He’s a great musician. My wife and I had the same dream of meeting him one day, so I’ve send him some music that I wrote. It’s a dream come true for me that André performed it with his orchestra. I’m totally knocked out by the result. It’s even more than I expected!” says Anthony Hopkins about his cooperation with André Rieu.
Sir Anthony Hopkins and his wife flew in a private jet to Maastricht to attend André’s hometown concerts where he performed it for the first time for such a large crowd. Rieu included the waltz on his new DVD and album and performed it on his USA, Canada and Mexico tours in the fall.
In september André started with the recordings for his new christmas special “Home for the Holidays” which was shown on German television in December.
2012Tours in Germany, France and Denmark were caught up and in may André gave his first concerts in Brazil. Over 180.000 people visit his record breaking series of 30 sold-out concerts in Sao Paulo in May, June, July and September. André & his orchestra appear on Domingão do Faustão; one of the biggest and longest running shows in Brazil. The episode with André had the best audience ratings since the start of the program 23 years ago.
In June André gave his traditional hometown concerts, which were recorded and broadcasted in cinemas worldwide. In July André earns the No. 1 ranking in Billboard Magazine’ Hot Tours chart before Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Cirque du Soleil, Van Halen and Nickelback. And in August 2012 Rieu tours South Africa for the third time.
For the second year in a row André Rieu wins a Classic Brit Award. This time for his album ‘And The Waltz Goes On’. He dedicated the award to Sir Antony Hopkins, who wrote the title track of the album.
At the end of the year André gives a concert in Rotterdam and is one of the very first artists to play in the brand new venue ‘Ziggo Dome’ in Amsterdam.
Rieu ends the year in style with a sold out UK and Ireland tour, including 2 concerts at London’s The O2 Arena.
20132013 began in the traditional way with 2 concerts in Cologne, Germany. In March, André toured throughout the USA and Canada, where Paul Anka attended one of the concerts and sang his biggest hit ‘My Way’ on stage with André. Five concerts in Rio de Janeiro followed.
On April 30 2013 André gave a ‘Coronation Concert’ on Museum Square in Amsterdam in honor of the investiture of the new King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. Tens of thousands of cheering people attended the unique concert which was broadcast live on national television. Not much later the DVD and CD ‘Rieu Royale’ were released, which included André’s ‘Coronation Waltz’ that he wrote especially for the occasion.
André resumed his tour in May with concerts in Denmark and Austria. Followed by his first concerts on Argentine and Chilean soil.
By the end of June The Vrijthof Square was once again the stunning backdrop for André’s traditional summer concerts in his hometown Maastricht. Motown legend Jermaine Jackson, who already recorded several songs with André in March, joined André on stage where he sang an emotional rendition of ‘Smile’, one of the favorite songs of his late brother Michael.
Singer and guitarist Trini Lopez also flew in to Maastricht to attend the Maastricht concerts. Together with André he performed his world famous hits ‘La Bamba’ and ‘If I had a Hammer’, bringing the audience to its feet dancing, singing, clapping and cheering.
After a short summer break the show goes on in September with tours throughout Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.
October marks the start of André’s weekly documentary series ‘André Rieu: Welcome To My World’. The 10-part series documenting the world behind the scenes of André’s concerts is broadcasted by Sky Arts.
Also in October, André won the ‘Album of the Year award’ at the Classic BRITs – for the third year in a row. His album ‘Magic of the Movies’ beat competition from other nominees including Andrea Bocelli, Lang Lang and Nicola Benedetti.
André gave his first ever concert in Turkey in November 2013. The sold out concert in Istanbul’s Sinan Erdem Dome was an enormous success and André promised the audience that they would return as soon as possible. In December 14 sold out concerts followed through the UK & Ireland.