André Rieu

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André Rieu
Andre Rieu 2009.jpg
Rieu in 2009
Background information
Birth name André Léon Marie Nicolas Rieu
Born (1949-10-01) 1 October 1949 (age 65)
Origin Maastricht, Netherlands
Genres Classical, Classical crossover, Waltz, Easy listening
Occupation(s) Conductor, violinist
Instruments Violin
Years active 1978–present
Labels Denon Records , Philips
Notable instruments
Stradivarius violin (1667)[1]

André Léon Marie Nicolas Rieu (born 1 October 1949) is a Dutch violinist and conductor best known for creating the waltz-playing Johann Strauss Orchestra. Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra have turned classical and waltz music into a worldwide concert touring music act, as successful as some of the biggest global pop and rock music acts.[citation needed]

Early life and studies[edit]

The name Rieu is of French Huguenot origin.[1] He began studying violin at the age of five. His father, of the same name, was conductor of the Maastricht Symphony Orchestra. From a very young age he developed a fascination with orchestra. He studied violin at the Conservatoire Royal in Liège and at the Conservatorium Maastricht, (1968–1973). His teachers included Jo Juda and Herman Krebbers. From 1974 to 1977, he attended the Music Academy in Brussels, studying with André Gertler, finally receiving his degree "Premier Prix" from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.[2]


At university he performed the Gold And Silver Waltz by Franz Lehár. Encouraged by the audience reaction he decided to pursue the waltz form. Rieu formed the Maastricht Salon Orchestra and performed as a violinist with the Limburg Symphony Orchestra. In 1987, he created the Johann Strauss Orchestra and his own production company. Since then, his melodramatic stage performances and rock-star demeanor have for some been associated with a revival of the waltz music category. André Rieu plays a 1667 Stradivarius violin.[1]

In September 2007 Rieu performed in Australia for the first time solo, without his Orchestra at the Sandringham Hotel, in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Sandringham playing "My Way" and "Waltzing Matilda"—and the next day appeared at Sydney's Arena Cove, Warringah Mall Shopping Centre with the same set. In April 2009, he made a cameo appearance as himself on "Ramsay Street" in the long-running Australian soap opera Neighbours.

In April 2013 Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra performed an open-air Coronation Concert in Amsterdam on the Museumplein.

In 2013, Rieu released a CD entitled "Music of the Night".

Johann Strauss Orchestra[edit]

The Orchestra began in 1987 with 12 members and the first concert was given on 1 January 1988. It now performs with between 80 and 150 musicians. At the time the Orchestra first toured Europe, a renewed interest in waltz music emerged in the continent. The revival began in the Netherlands and was ignited by their recording of the Second Waltz from Shostakovich's Suite for Variety Orchestra. As a result, Rieu became known as the "Waltz King".

Rieu and his orchestra have performed throughout Europe, North and South America, and Japan. Winning a number of awards including two World Music Awards, their recordings have gone gold and platinum in many countries, including 8-times Platinum in the Netherlands.

He records both DVD and CD repertoire at his own recording studios in Maastricht in a wide range of classical music as well as popular and folk music, plus music from well-known soundtracks and musical theatre. His lively orchestral presentations, in tandem with marketing, have attracted worldwide audiences to this subgenre of classical music.

In recent years André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra have taken classical and waltz music on worldwide concert tours, the size and revenue of which are otherwise only seen from pop and rock music acts. In 2008 Rieu’s extravagant tour featured a full size reproduction of Empress Sisi’s Castle, the biggest stage ever to go on tour at that time.[3] During the first half of 2009, André Rieu was the world’s most successful male touring artist, according to Billboard magazine.[4]

Recent world tour results in Billboard / Pollstar annual worldwide top tours lists
Year Rank # Shows Revenue Source
2013 #20 70 shows $49,983,266 Billboard Top 25 Tours 2013[5]
2012 #10 99 shows $46,785,71 Billboard Top 25 Tours 2012[6]
2011 # 9 102 shows $67,104,756 Billboard Top 25 Tours 2011[7]
2010 #16 86 shows $39,992,285 Billboard Top 25 Tours 2010[8]
2009 # 6 112 shows $95,854,338 Billboard Top 25 Tours 2009[9]
2008 # 8 71 shows $76.9 mll Pollstar’s top 10 worldwide tour acts 2008[3]

Temporary Rieu themed TV channel[edit]

One of the channels of the BSkyB group, Sky Arts 2 in the UK, was renamed as Sky Arts Rieu in his honour. Between 30 March and 14 April 2013 Sky Arts Rieu broadcast Rieu concerts and documentaries 24 hours per day.[10]


Eamon Kelly, writing in The Australian newspaper, in an article that discusses the controversy that Rieu engenders, said: "He depicts his critics as members of a stuffy musical elite with narrow aesthetic tastes, yet regularly demeans in interviews music that is not to his taste and classical musicians who choose not to perform in his manner."[11]

Of Rieu's popularity and the debate in the media over criticism of him, Eamon Kelly says: "It is disappointing to see professional journalists indulging in cheap, inaccurate stereotypes to dismiss criticism of Rieu."[11] But he goes on to add: "Equally misguided are those who cursorily dismiss Rieu. Rieu's live and recorded performances have brought joy to millions of people. Few in his audiences are regular classical music attendees and it could be seen as promising that, via Rieu, they are listening to standards of the classical canon. The fact that Rieu's focus is on highly accessible, enjoyable repertoire is not an argument against his musical credentials."[11]

Eamon Kelly further adds, after hearing the orchestra perform, that there is "no cause" for Rieu's boast his orchestra was "superior to the many other orchestras that specialise in ... Viennese and popular classical repertoire." Additionally, he found that in musical terms "the performance did not surpass playing standards in Australia's major symphony orchestras". He did add that the "oboist, Arthur Cordewener, provided the most impressive musical performance with a sublime introduction to an otherwise unremarkable performance of [Ravel's] Boléro."[11]

David Templeton, writing in the magazine All Things Strings says:

Ironically, it is Rieu’s own success that has earned him a horse-drawn carriage full of criticism, a pot-shot laden backlash aimed chiefly at the calculated emotionalism and theatrical flourishes of his performances, which, according to many, only cheapen the classical-music experience. Classical radio stations avoid his music as they might avoid a leper in the mall, though—let’s just say it plain and clear—Rieu is a superb violinist.[12]

Chris Boyd, a critic writing for Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper, finds that he could not give a general criticism of the playing of Rieu, as, except for "a clean and lyrical solo in Waltzing Matilda", his main stage function was apparently "blarney and delegation". However, Boyd also comments that the quality of the artists that Rieu works with is "extraordinary". Boyd assesses the low points of the concert as the "Three Tenors-style" rendition of "Nessun dorma" which he finds was an "abomination", while saying the concert's highlights included "a sugar-shock sweet rendition" of "O mio babbino caro" as well as Strauss's Emperor Waltz and Blue Danube, Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary and the Boléro.[13]

Personal life[edit]

André has been married to Marjorie Rieu (1951) since 1975 and they have two sons, Marc (1978) and Pierre (1981). Marjorie Rieu works with her husband full-time as production manager. She studied German and Italian, film science, French literature and writes children’s books. Apart from Dutch (including his native Limburgish) Rieu also speaks (in order of fluency) English, German, French, Italian and Spanish.

In April 2014, André sought advice from a Swiss osteopathic surgeon for complaints of severe neck pain, similar to a repetitive strain disorder.[citation needed]


Selected discography[edit]

  • Maastricht Salon Orkest – Serenata (1984)
  • Hieringe biete 1 (1989)
  • D'n blauwen aovond (1992)
  • Merry Christmas (1992)
  • Strauss & Co (1994)
  • The Vienna I Love (1995)
  • In Concert (1996)
  • Strauss Gala (1997)
  • The Christmas I Love (October 1997)
  • Romantic Moments (1998)
  • 100 Years of Strauss (1999)
  • Fiesta! (October 1999)
  • La vie est belle (2000) – Berlin
  • Musik zum Träumen (Dreaming) (2001)
  • Live at the Royal Albert Hall (April 2002)
  • Love Around the World (November 2002)
  • Gala Concert (December 2002) – Hamburg
  • Romantic Paradise (September 2003) – Cortona, Italy
  • Live in Dublin (October 2003)
  • André Rieu at the Movies (March 2004)
  • The Flying Dutchman (July 2004)
  • Live in Tuscany (September 2004)
  • Songs from My Heart (2005)
  • Roses from the South (June 2005) – Mainau, Germany
  • New Year's Eve in Vienna (October 2005)
  • Auf Schönbrunn (July 2006) – Vienna)
  • Christmas Around the World (October 2006)
  • New York Memories (November 2006) – Radio City NY
  • The 100 Most Beautiful Melodies (May 2007) – Australian Albums: No.2
  • Masterpieces (September 2007) – Australian Albums: No.9
  • In Wonderland (November 2007) – Efteling, Nederland
  • Waltzing Matilda (April 2008) – Australian Albums: No.1
  • Live in Vienna (September 2008)
  • Ich tanze mit dir in den Himmel hinein (October 2008) – Wedding, Semper Opera, Dresden
  • Live in Maastricht II (November 2008)
  • Live in Australia (December 2008) – Australian Albums: No.14
  • You'll Never Walk Alone (May 2009) – Australian Albums: No.2
  • Live in Maastricht III (September 8, 2009)
  • I Lost My Heart in Heidelberg (September 29, 2009) – with the Berlin Comedian Harmonists
  • The Very Best of André Rieu (October 2009) – Australian Albums: No.23
  • Forever Vienna (December 2009) – UK: #2, IRE: No.4
  • You Raise Me Up – Songs for Mum (May 2010) – Australian Albums: No.8
  • My African Dream (August 2010) – South Africa
  • Live in Maastricht IV (September 2010)
  • Moonlight Serenade (November 2010) – Australian Albums: No.17
  • And the Waltz Goes On (2011)
  • Live in Brazil (2012)
  • Home for Christmas (December 11, 2012)
  • Live in Maastricht VI (October 2013) – 25th anniversary
  • Nuits magiques (November 2013)
  • Love Letters (February 2014)
  • Les mélodies du bonheur (May 2014)
  • Un amour à Venise (November 2014)


External links[edit]