Early life and studies
André Rieu was born into a musical family on October 1, 1949 in Maastricht in the Netherlands. He began studying violin at the age of five. His father was a conductor. From a very young age he developed a fascination with orchestra. He studied violin at the Conservatoire Royal in Liège and in 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, winning the Premier Prix at the academy.
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.
Johann Strauss Orchestra
The Orchestra began in 1987 with 12 members but now performs with between 40 and 50 musicians. At the time the Orchestra first toured Europe, there emerged a renewed interest in waltz music. The revival began in the Netherlands and was ignited by their recording of the Second Waltz from Shostakovich’s Jazz Suites. As a result, Rieu became known as the waltz King.
Rieu and his orchestra have performed throughout Europe, in North 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. In September 2007 Rieu performed in Australia for the first time solo, without his Orchestra at the Eastland shopping centre in the Melbourne suburb of Ringwood playing “My Way” and “Waltzing Matilda”—and the next day appeared at Sydney’s Arena Cove, Warringah Mall shopping complex with the same set. Rieu and orchestra returned to Australia in November as part of his world tour. Rieu and his orchestra played 3 concerts at Melbourne’s Telstra Dome from 13-15 November and continued their tour throughout Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, through to December 2008. The concert theme is ‘A Romantic Vienna Night’ and the set comprises a replica of part of a Viennese castle, complete with 2 ice-skating rinks 2 Fountains, and a ballroom dance floor situated above and behind the Orchestra
His lively orchestral presentations, in tandem with incessant marketing, have attracted worldwide audiences to this subgenre of classical music.
Andre Rieu Live in Dublin, filmed in Dublin, Ireland, and 2005’s André Rieu Live in Tuscany filmed in the Piazza Della Repubblica in the village of Cortona in Tuscany.
And the Waltz Goes On
A studio album by Dutch violinist André Rieu which features Christchurch soprano Hayley Westenra on the last track, "Dreaming of New Zealand".
The album was released worldwide on October 31 2011. It presents waltzes from around the world, including a “Valse Triste” (sad waltz) from Finland, a miniature waltz “La petite Valse” from France, a popular waltz tune that began life in Germany.
Anthony Hopkins composed a waltz called "And the waltz goes on" for the album.
Inspired by New Zealand's stunning landscape and the ‘life must go on’ attitude of its people in the face of the recent natural disasters, André penned a dreamy waltz entitled "Dreaming of New Zealand". The album includes both an instrumental version and one with English and Māori lyrics.
He is married to Marjorie, who works with him full-time as production manager, and has two sons, Marc and Pierre. He speaks (in order of fluency) Dutch (including his home/city dialect Maastrichtian), English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. Rieu has worked with his brother, Jean Philippe for several years, but Jean Philippe has now started his own production company