Star violinist and “King of the Waltz” André Rieu co-hosts a Euromaxx Special

Star violinist and “King of the Waltz” André Rieu co-hosts a Euromaxx Special


World famous violonist and conductor André
Rieu joins Euromaxx as the show goes out on the road Hi everyone and welcome to this very special
edition of euromaxx where we have a very special guest co-hosting the programm with us. And today it is maestro André Rieu, conductor
and musician. Thank you so much for having us today and
welcoming us in your beautiful home. It’s fantastic to have you here. Thank you. We are in Maastricht. We are out of the studio. Mr. Rieu, you know, you are called the King
of the Walz. Do you accept this title? Of course. It’s good to have. And it’s you who gave it to me, the media,
not myself. But I can live with it. You come from a musical background I (…) a
bit about your musical history. Was there ever any doubt in your life that
you would become a musician? No. No, that’s true. My mother told me, I was five: ‘Ehhm, I think
you have good hands for the violin.’ And that was the start. I attended all the concerts of my father and
so I saw the whole classical music, I heart the whole classical music. But, the Waltz was always there. Because, he loved to play waltzes. And as a small boy, I was sitting there you
know, the whole concert, Rachmaninov, Beethoven, whatever. Everybody was so serious and then suddenly
at the Waltz, the people started to smile, to be happy. I think that was the beginning that I was
in love with the Waltz. Alright, we are going to come to the Waltz,
but actually maestro Rieu has sold more concerts I believe, than popstar Beyoncé. And you’ve managed to turn your passion for
classical music to a multi-million euro business, so let’s take a closer look at the life and
career of André Rieu. André Rieu – the King of the Waltz – lives
in the Dutch city of Maastricht . He delights fans the world over. It’s classical music as a show event, with
plenty of surprises and lavish sets. His co-workers describe him as strict but
with a keen sense of humor. He’s not just a violinist. He leads the largest private orchestra in
the world, with a permanent ensemble of about fifty musicians. “Listen! The trumpet sounds different this time. Let me hear the other one.” “Yes, the
other one sounds more Italian.” André Rieu was born in 1949 into a family
of musicans in Maastricht. He started learning to play the violin when
he was five. Later, he played with various Dutch ensembles. 1995 saw his international breakthrough. He performed at half-time at the Champions
League football match between Bayern Munich and Ajax Amsterdam. Afterwards, his sales went through the roof. But his elaborate stage shows threatened to
become an obstacle in his path to success. In 2008, he had a life-sized replica of Vienna’s
Schönbrunn Palace built as a set and shipped to Australia in more than 200 containers. The colossal undertaking pushed him to the
edge of bankruptcy. That is all history now and the Rieu venture
is back in the black. His tours take him all over the world, so
there are always four copies of his sets. Several copies are also made of the custom-tailored
costumes he designs himself. André Rieu has turned his love of classical
music into a million-euro business, and this Waltz King is living his own fairy-tale. It seems that one of the keys to your success,
at least what I’ve observed, is your sense of humor and your interaction with your audience. You conduct with your back to musicians, but
facing your audience and you often have your soloists interact in a funny way and then
the audience reacts. How did you come to this idea? I think it was inside me. Again, back to my mother, she said always
to me: ‘Andre, don’t look to people into the eyes. That’s not polite.’ But I think, that’s life. When I don’t look you into your eyes, I mean,
how can I make contact with you. So, that’s what I do with my audience. Your Johann Strauss orchestra you founded
in 1987, you were already a professional musician, establish your career more or less. What inspired you to create your orchestra? Because of my collegues and their so called
‘classical orchestras’. You know, they were sitting there, playing
their notes and complaining about it’s too hot, it’s too cold, I have not enough money,
when is the next holiday, nobody spoke about the music. And then, Marjorie my wife, she saw me coming
back from the rehearsal every day more unhappy. And she said: ‘I earn the money for you, and
you follow your dream.’ Because that was my own orchestra It’s a great partnership to you – with her. Yeah, still. I always dreamt to marry a wife, that I would
be working with, not that she would be a dentist and I am a musician. No, I wanted to do everything together and
that’s what we still do. You’re able to get people to attend classical
music concerts that may never do that. What is your secret method really? I think the secret is that we… When we play classical music, we don’t adapt
it to the great audience by putting a beat on the Beethoven or something you know. We play it like, it should be played. But in the whole context, that they accept
it more with humor. Ok. You helped us put this program together today
and one of the subjects, that you chose was a report on Rome. Yes. And why do you like Rome so much? First of all, because that’s my holiday, once
a year we go three days to Rome with the whole family and secondly because I am very fascinated
by the Romans how they created all these things they could created in that time. And I would like to think big, like they did. but without blood, they did everything with
blood and cruelty. We would like to take our viewers on a tour
through the City of Love, I think, that’s a fair designation for Rome. And we are going to do like the Romans do,
on a Vespa. If you want to see ALL the sights of Rome,
you’ll need plenty of time. This city has over 2700 years of history – and
that’s evident wherever you look. Art historian Valerio Vernesi is a tour guide
in Rome. His company “Romamirabilia” offers tours on
Vespa scooters. „OK, Andiamo!“ These typical Italian scooters are ideal for
weaving through the busy traffic in Rome. We pass all the main sights – like the Colosseum,
which dates back to around 80 AD. “There’re two things I like about driving
a Vespa around Rome. Firstly, I like the sound of the engine, and
secondly, I realise how many beautiful places there are. I drive past the Castel Sant’Angelo and St
Peter’s Basilica through all the little streets and past the fountains, and I think: Rome
is fanstastic!” The Roman Forum. It was the centrepiece of ancient Rome and
today a key area for excavation. The Forum gives an idea of what life was like
in Rome in the days of Julius Ceasar and Emperor Augustus. “Rome would like to be both an ancient and
a modern city. But whenever we start digging, we find a Roman
villa or a capital. We just have to accept all of Rome being a
museum. So it can only adapt to modern times in a
limited way.” One of the advantages of driving through Rome
on a Vespa is that it’s easy to escape the traffic jams. The Janiculum Hill offers a welcome haven
– and the best views of the city. “After a hard day’s work, we locals from Rome
like to come here to relax. And on Sundays, we visit the many parks you
can see from up here. Back there we see the low-lying dome, that’s
the dome of the Pantheon, which is around two thousand years old. Behind that to the left is the white church
with the two towers, that’s Trinita dei Monti which stands above the Spanish Steps, and
then there’s the Villa Medici.” It might be a good idea to hit the tourist
sites in highest demand early in the morning late in the evening. After just one day of riding around Rome on
a Vespa, it’s clear we’d need many more if we wanted to see all of Italy’s capital city. So when you are in Rome, I mean you are famous. Can you walk around like a typical tourist,
or do people come up to you and want your autograph? I must laugh, because once we were there and
the Pope was coming to a certain place: Waiting, waiting, waiting and I was standing there,
giving autographs. And then the pope came and all the people
asked, who is that man next to Andre? Ooh ok! So you are more famous than the Pope. No, I am making a joke, but it was….. Now, you are on the road quite a lot. Is it difficult to follow a routine, especially
in terms of food, are you a big fan of Italian cuisine? I am, because we are we have our own cooks
on the road. For several reasons at the beginning, we didn’t
have our cooks and then it was like: ‘Ah, Andre Rieu is coming, so let’s serve Wiener
Schnitzel and in the next city we came: ‘Let’s serve Wiener Schnitzel’, so we were eating
a whole week Wiener Schnitzel. So to avoid that, we said, we have our own
cooks and that’s healthier and you don’t have to wait and sit. Right. Speaking of Wiener Schnitzel, I also know
that you are a fan of Vienna, Yes… Of course. … this is where Johann Strauss the second
more or less perfected the waltz in the form that we know it. Ok, we know your music is about the waltz,
but do you dance the waltz? I dance? No, let me play. Ok, you prefer to play… Vienna is essentially where the waltz was
made popular a 180 years ago. But in today’s day and age, people are still
dancing it. Are they? Yes. Happily. Every night, when we give a concert and at
the end we play the Danube. And then, I don’t tell them to stand up and
to dance, but it’s the way we play it you know. You can play it like… and nobody will stand
up, but when you play it like… And then it goes like that you know. Ok. Well, we were recently in Vienna to see, if
young people are still dancing the watlz. Let’s take a look. This dance school in Austria’s capital is
passing on a Viennese tradition to the next generation. The pupils swirl and float around the hall
in time to the music. The Viennese waltz first became fashionable
here in the 18th century. It’s still popular at balls and parties in
Vienna today. “I wanted to lean how to dance, because, honestly,
all the princesses in Walt Disney could also dance. So I also wanted to lean that. “I think the waltz is either just as easy
or hard for both partners, depending on how well they master the music and steps.” “To me, the waltz has something Viennese about
it. It’s a Viennese tradition, and it’s lots of
fun. It’s also one of the most frequent dances
at balls.” “I think it’s a very harmonious dance. It represents Austria. It’s a part of our culture – like the Wiener
Schnitzel.” “Whenever someone plays a waltz, everyone
immediately starts moving – you just can’t help it.” The Viennese waltz is one of the world’s fastest
dances. It was first mentioned in the late 17th century. It soon became established as a ballroom dance,
both with nobility and the middle classes. It’s still a hit with young and old today
– the world over. There are various reasons why it’s so popular. “It’s rhythmic and easy to dance – turning
right OR left.”+++ “The music is beautiful.” “It’s a lovely feeling, moving in three-four
time, and it’s right for us. We just like to dance.” The compositions of Johann Strauss the Younger
made the Viennese waltz a worldwide success. The musician and composer wrote such classics
as The Blue Danube Waltz and re-shaped the popular image of Vienna. This museum chronicles his work – and that
of the entire Strauss dynasty. Pianist and music researcher Helmut Reichenauer
is a co-founder. He’s spent years studying the history of the
Strauss family, which produced so many great musicians. “The breakthrough came with Johann Strauss
the Elder. Around 1830, he went on concert tours of England
and France and caused a huge sensation with his waltzes. Then his son, also called Johann, perfected
the form of the waltz. His brother Josef played a decisive part,
and together they expanded on the waltz form.” Many original documents are displayed in seven
rooms. Johann Strauss the Younger was born in 1825. He composed nearly 500 works. Not far from the museum is the Vienna State
Opera: the site of the annual Opera Ball. It traditionally opens with a Viennese waltz. “The Viennese waltz is danced especially often
at Vienna’s balls. We have about 450 of these events a year – practically
every week, except in July and August. And virtually every time, they dance Viennese
waltzes right from the start. It’s always the opening waltz.”+++ And waltzing successfully means practice,
practice – and practice some more. Vienna’s dance schools have no shortage of
customers. So, I guess it’s fair to say that you are
carrying on the Strauss family dynasty with your music and encouraging this popular dance
to be danced. Do you think it will still live on 180 years? Forever. Do you think it will still live on, why? Forever, the waltz is forever. Because, it’s something, that it’s in the
blood of everybody. It’s like the heartbeat, the heartbeat goes
one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three. It’s true, so, you only have to follow your
heartbeat. Johann Strauss, both father and son and the
other son, they composed their own waltzes. Do you compose your own music? Yes, every known then, every known then. But they were genius and I am only a musician. I am very lucky, that I can play their beautiful
music. What do you think it is? Is it because the waltz is so easy to dance,
that is makes it so popular with audiences? No! It’s not easy at all! You don’t think, that’s easy. No, it’s very difficult! To play or to dance? Both! Aha. Because I’ve heard otherwise, that… Very often I see, so called classical orchestras,
and then: ‘Oh ja, let’s play a Walz. We have five minutes. So, let’s do it, because it’s easy.’ No, it’s not easy. But then why is that so popular with general
audiences? I think because of the rhythm: One, two, three. You think it’s because people count along
even if they are not musical. Yes, and it’s very interesting when am I see
the audience, but one man is sitting there… not me, but that’s the critic. But why do I say that, it’s a question of,
let yourself go. Give yourself to the waltz, then, it’s a fantastic
music. One thing which is quite clear to any observers
of your concerts is how you bring immense joy to them. And there are scientific findings, that music
is therapeutic and that makes everyone feel good. So, let’s take a closer look at a report on
this theory. „Here we go again. Everybody! One, two, yeah!“ Music gets us moving…
…brings a smile to our faces… …and touches our emotions. In short: Music makes us HAPPY! And Dutch neuropsychologist Erik Scherder
knows why. His book „Singing In The Brain“ explains
just what happens inside our brains when we listen to music. “One thing that has been described in literature
about music is expectation. So the moment you think, all right, this is
a very known melody, when that moment arrives, right, than you will find – I will split
the brain a little bit – you will find an activation of the reward system. This is the system that makes you think, yes,
this is what I want!” Reading sheet music and performing at the
same time can be challenging. But professionals like André Rieu have trained
their brains to master both skills at once. So they can handle both with ease. “You will see that he uses less brain areas,
less neural systems for playing at a very high level. That’s his expertise. And by doing that he will remain, a lot of
neural circuits will remain. And all of the energy will stay there, extra
energy. And with this extra energy he will activate
neural systems that will enable him to elaborate.” And that allows violinist André Rieu and
his orchestra to put on a truly spectacular show. So, how does the audience feel? “Excited and alive!” “I’m pretty sure that everybody here is
happy – happier!” “I`m speechless. I don’t know. I have no words!” „I want to laugh, I want to cry, it’s
everything at the same time.” Concertmaster Frank Steijns’ incredible talent
also helps things along. He joined André Rieu’s „Johann Strauss
Orchester” more than twenty years ago. “When I started to playing violin you had
to look at each finger and you had to think about each bow you’re doing and in studying
more and more and more everything disappears, it just happens automatically, it is like
some other part of me is doing that which leaves my brain free to do something else.” Music can conjure up powerful emotions. And help our brains develop! That’s why Erik Scherder wants schools to
offer music classes. “Concerning the development of the brain,
our children up until 30 years of age, particularly the white matter, particularly in the pre
frontal cortex is still developing. Until 30 years of age! So to do it as optimal as possible you have
to challenge the brain as much as possible. And music should be one of those challenges.” Music is evidently much more than just stellar
entertainment! So fans attending André Rieu’s concerts are
not just having a great time. They’re also training their brains! Speaking of making people happy, as I mentioned
before, you bring tears to the audience. I’ve seen videos where people and I actually
watched some of your videos, one with Sir Anthony Hopkins, with absolutely tears in
my eyes, very moving. You managed this in Australia as well. Australians are huge fans of yours. What do you do differently there? I don’t do nothing differently there. The audience there is very down to earth and
I think, we are down to earth also. We are too normal. How do you say it in Holland: ‘Do normal,
you are special enough.’ So, that’s how the Australians are and there
is a click between the Australian audience and our music and my orchestra. And in fact it’s one of your biggest audiences,
concerts to play in Australia, in Melbourne I believe? Yes, that’s true. No, the biggest was in Toronto. But that’s not Australia, that’s totally different. That’s Canada. Are you planning on going back to Australia? Yes, we go back in November to Australia to
give christmas concerts. Ok, but you are also planning, you got a couple
of things, you got a big tour coming up in September 15. Tell me a little bit about that. In fact, I am always on tours. A tour is coming up now, the first concert
is in Maastricht, after the break we go to Argentina, we go to America, then we go to
Australia, then quick back to England, then to Germany How do you keep track of all of this? Do you get jetlag? The jetlag is a point, the scientists should
find something. That’s a difficult thing. And youlose track of what city you are in? I am always asking, where are we? But that’s true, the people ask me: ‘You must
be very tired.’ But it’s not. Once on the road, I am on holiday. Because the only thing I have to do, together
with my orchestra, we jump in the bus, we jump on stage, we do our music, we go to the
hotel, we sleep, we go back. So, everything is organized. Wonderful. Maestro Rieu, we are out of time for today,
but thank you so much for having us in your beautiful home and thank you to all of you
for tuning in, with me, Meggin Leigh and Maestro André Rieu.


9 thoughts on “Star violinist and “King of the Waltz” André Rieu co-hosts a Euromaxx Special

  1. To take a closer look at the life and career of André Rieu, go to 2:16; to learn why maestro Rieu likes Rome so much, watch 8:05; check if young people are still dancing the waltz at 13:16 and find out why music is making people happy at 19:26.

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