Born c.1950 in Maastricht, Holland;son of a symphony conductor; married with two sons; Education: Graduate of the Royal Conservatory, Brussels. Addresses: Record company-Polygram Records, Inc., 8258th Ave. Fl. C2b, New York, NY 10019.

A versatile violinist and spirited conductor, Andre Rieu capitalized on his classical music training and natural charisma to successfully recreate the uplifting atmosphere of the nineteenth-century Viennese dance halls for twentieth-century audiences worldwide. Rieu's unique classical style evolved around the notion that the audience must be involved in order to appreciate the music. Although the inspiration for his innovative musical presentations reached back over 100 years, his style was frequently categorized as "crossover" music because it combined the revered scores of the classical composers with a more informal performance atmosphere characteristic of popular music.

Rieu was born in Maastricht, Holland. His father conducted the Limburg Symphony Orchestra of Holland and the Leipzig Opera. Classical music permeated the Rieu household, and the Rieu children were well versed in the works of the great composers. Rieu and his numerous siblings were heavily involved in musical training. Each displayed some talent and learned to play an instrument. Rieu himself developed into an accomplished violinist. As his understanding and appreciation of music grew, he developed a special fondness for the rhythms of the great Viennese waltzes. The waltzes, he maintained, stirred his emotions and created euphoria, so it was natural that he would devote his career to that style of music.

Rieu attended the Royal Conservatory in Brussels. After graduation he played in various Dutch symphony orchestras, including a term with the classical Limburg Symphony. Despite his appreciation and love for classical music, he grew increasingly disenchanted by the orchestral environment so familiar to his upbringing. He developed a dislike for the stiff and formal format that created a chasm between the performers and the audience. Rieu's frustration over the classical music format inspired him to assemble an orchestra of his own choosing and to seek his own method of presentation.

Began Encouraging Audience Participation

During the late 1980s, Rieu recorded with a variety of instrumental groups of his own selection, among them the Maastricht Salon Orchestra. During those early years he engrossed himself in conducting music and playing his violin. He was shy on stage and conversed rarely with the audience. As a result his performances took the traditional bent that he disliked so much, yet Rieu continued his efforts to remove the emotional distance that alienated the audience from the music and from the musicians. In search of a resolution, Rieu turned to the tradition of Johann Strauss II who is universally acknowledged as the King of the Waltz. Strauss, a violinist like Rieu, habitually performed facing his public; he created a festive atmosphere for his listeners, and encouraged them to dance and to enjoy each waltz. During a 1996 interview with Scott Simon for National public Radio, Rieu called the waltz stehgeig, a slang term that describes when a piece of music is assimilated totally into the performance medium. Rieu restructured his own performances according to the Strauss prescription, and quickly met with success. He assembled a new group of Dutch local instrumentalists and dubbed the ensemble the Johann Strauss Orchestra. Together Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra, which consisted of two to three dozen performing musicians at any given time, developed a classical repertoire that emphasized lively dance music, polkas, and waltzes. One particular performance, during the early 1990s, in Harlingen, Holland, made a lasting impression on a music executive who was in attendance, and by 1994 Rieu was under contract with Mercury Holland Records. "[Rieu's] concerts are incredible he faces the audience, and within a short while everyone is up out of their chairs waltzing," PolyGram Holland president Theo Roos told Billboard.

Mercury Holland wasted no time and released Strauss & Co., Rieu's first album with the Strauss Orchestra, in September of 1994. Rieu made promotional appearances in Germany and developed a following very quickly. The CD entered the market as popular music and sold with ease, over half a million copies, including over 655,000 in Holland alone. Additionally, 55,000 copies sold in Belgium by June of 1995. For 19 weeks Strauss & Co. topped the Dutch album charts, and the record made a showing on the German charts. Strauss & Co. included tracks by Dmitri Shostakovich, Johann Strauss, Franz Lehar, and others. The album featured two singles that rose into the top ten ratings: Strauss's "No House but Strauss," and "The Second Waltz" of Shostakovich. Mercury ultimately released the album in South Africa, in the Philippines, and in Malaysia.

Found Commercial Success

In 1996 Rieu toured throughout Europe, to Germany, France, and Austria. He released a new album, From Holland with Love, that held strong at the number one position on the Dutch music charts for a solid year. A music video was released, and the CD went platinum eight times, prior to its American release later in 1996. Rieu also spent much of his time during that summer as a featured celebrity on PBS fund-raising specials. His album, From Holland with Love, was offered to viewers as an incentive forpledge donations, and the recording was among the most requested items during the pledge broadcast. Rieu donated his time onceagain for that same cause during March of 1997. From Holland with Love was released ultimately in over two dozen countries aroundthe world and was among 96 albums to be certified as "Platinum Europe" recordings under a new program from Sony Music Entertainment Europe. Sony's platinum collection of million-selling albums were publicly acknowledged on June 27,1996. Six months later, on January 28, 1997, The Vienna I Lovewas released on the Philips label. That album hit number three on the Billboard classical album chart, and a music video was also released. Rieu not only made a name for himself in the music world, but he also earned the gratitude of the European music industry which recognized and appreciated the impact of his popularity in spurring record sales in the European market.

In October of 1997, Time reported that Rieu had two albums on the Billboard classical music charts while another seemed likely to enter. The Vienna I Love, featuring waltzes, marches, and operatic airs, had climbed to number two while From Holland with Love held at number eight. As Strauss Gala remained poised to enter the charts, Terry Teachout of Time dubbed Rieu the"superstar nobody knows." Indeed Rieu's recordings rivaled those of the major classical stars for positions on the charts,including tenor Luciano Pavarotti and soprano Kathleen Battle.

In the fall of 1997, Rieu released a Christmas album; creatively marketed in collaboration with the Dutch postal service which offered a free CD sampler from the album, as a premium with the purchase of Christmas stamps. Rieu and his orchestra also filmed a Christmas special that year, entitled Andre Rieu: the Christmas I Love, that aired on American public television in November of 1997. Rieu's first official tour of North America during that same year took him to Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington, and a number of other cities, includinga sold-out concert at Boston Symphony Hall.

In January of 1998, Rieu received the Gold and Silver Harps award "Export Prize" from Conamus, for sales and other achievements by Dutch artists. Four months later Billboard reported that worldwide sales of Rieu's records exceeded 4.5million. On December 17, 1998, a report of the year-end Billboard Music Charts from United Press International showed The Vienna I Love at number eight and In Concert at number ten among the year's classical album releases, based on retail sales.

In the spring of 1998, Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra made an encore tour of the United States. They played the Universal Amphitheater in Universal City, Concord Pavilion in the San Francisco Bay area, and other large capacity theaters. Rieu's plans for 1999 included a June concert, scheduled for the Olympic Stadium in Munich, where he would perform with Michael Jackson, Pavarotti, and Montserrat Caballe, in a relief effort for Kosovo refugees.

Concert-goers Extraordinaire

Rieu's live concerts attract a spectrum of fans, typically ranging in age from 16 to 65 years old. Members of the audiencecan be seen in any manner of attire, from formal black tie , to T-shirt and tennis shoes. Rieu himself dresses in tails and wears his hair long. The Johann Strauss Orchestra, also dress elegantly, appear to enjoy every moment of each performance. Rieu's warm demeanor habitually sets the audience to tapping its collective feet, if not dancing in the aisles outright. Rieu is not himself a dancer; he does not waltz and prefers it that way. Regardless he captured and held the interest of the mainstream public with his classical music repertoire, a feat accomplished by only a very few artists. Rieu's phenomenal success is not an accident; he is considered an excellent conductor, a talented violinist, and a great showman. According to Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Rieu's performances are demanding and require hard work, " to sustain the illusion of spontaneous fun." Critics concur that Rieu's handsome face considerably enhances his talent and personal charm. Rieu in turn rejects any attempt to dissect his popularity. He attributes his success to the entire "package" of his performance and presentation.

Critical comparisons have likened Rieu to countless notable personalities but rarely become tiresome because of the extensive diversity. In a single breath the Boston Globe compared Rieu to singer Tom Jones, leading man Mel Gibson, swing band leader SpikeJones, fictional muscle man Conan the Barbarian, and the flamboyant pianist Liberace. The Los Angeles Times called Rieu the "Pied Piper of light classical music." Comparisons with television band leader Lawrence Welk also apply. The tongue-in-cheek nicknames bestowed upon Rieu vary drastically, from "waltzmeister" to the "schmaltz of waltz," while few refute the de facto appellation "New Waltz King," an allusion to his predecessor, Johann Strauss II.

Rieu is married and has two sons. The family lives in Holland,and it is there that Rieu recruits local talent for membership inthe Johann Strauss Orchestra. He takes a personal approach to selecting the musicians; congeniality is the utmost priority; virtuoso musical skills are a plus.

by Gloria Cooksey

Andre Rieu's Career

Violinist with Leipzig Symphony Orchestra and other Dutch orchestras; assembled and conducted private orchestras; toured Germany, 1994; signed with Mercury Holland, 1994; released Strauss& Co., 1994; From Holland with Love, 1996; toured U.S., 1997; released The Vienna I Love, Phillips, 1997; released The Christmas I Love, Phillips, 1997; Andre Rieu in Concert, Phillips, 1998; signed with PolyGram; released Romantique, 1998; released Romantic Moments, 1999; dubbed the "New Waltz King" for his emulation of Johann Strauss's performing style.

Andre Rieu's Awards

"Export Prize" of the Gold and Silver Harps award, January 1998.

Famous Works

Further Reading

Sources

PeriodicalsOnlineOther

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

over 2 years ago

my hus and bought me a dvd for chritmas 2011 and from the first time i played it i was hooked andre's music got into my soul and i cannot get enough of him and his music i watch it over and over again love him loads

over 2 years ago

A Happy New Year 2012 for you, for your family, for your team and for your work!

over 2 years ago

Hello Mister Andre Rieu, It's hard work what you do. But the tools are wonderful.Music and musical culture and education. I appreciate so much what you do. I try to watch you and your performances every day and I can tell I succeed. I would be completely unhappy if not. It is like I am in heaven. It's like a ray of hope. I'd be happy to be able to have a ticket when you next tour in Strasbourg.....just to be there, hear the music and see you, performing. I love you and I love your music.Even if I repeat what others have said , I can't help.That's it. I discovered you one day. Since then I am happy.

over 2 years ago

Andre wait for me at the Prudential Center in Newark this Nov. Try to bring Carmen, Susan, Carla & Mirusa if not, some other beautiful ones.

about 3 years ago

My 74 year old brother is going to see Andre at the MEM Arena Manchester the day after his 75th birthday, he is a batchelor and a wonderful brother, uncle, brother in law, friend to many. He is always watching Andre on the Television when the programmes are on tv, he absolutely adores the style of music, and loves Strauss. he is a big Lancashire Brass band fan and is the librarian for our local brass band, Whitworth Vale and Healey Vets Brass band, Good luck Peter I hope you really enjoy the concert,

about 3 years ago

Dear Andre, Our whole family dearly loves you, your music and orchestra! We watch your DVD's over and over and they just get better and better. You have some wonderful musicians and your orchestra is wild and wonderful because you have made them so! Being a musician myself, I enjoy every note of every piece of music you do. It is fantastic!! Please don't ever go away!!

over 3 years ago

Dear André, my parents were born in Holland and my dad watches your TV programs whenever they air (my mom is deceased). He loves your music and your personality! For his 83rd birthday this year (2010) I took him to your San Jose, CA USA concert last night! We LOVED it!! You are one of a kind; so enjoyable, so uplifting. Your orchestra consists of absolutely talented characters... also a joy to watch perform. Thank you for your music; I hope you continue to bring joy to the world for many years to come. Thank you for last night!

over 3 years ago

Andre' No words can describe the uplifting feeling that you bring to my heart and soul. Your music lifts my spirits beyond words.

over 3 years ago

Just one question I wish to ask;- WILL YOU EVER COME TO SUNNY CYPRUS ? I have all your cd,s and all your dvd,s. There is no one else in the world that makes music like you do.

over 3 years ago

hi andre,ihave to watch your dvd every day its like a drug for me all my worries just drift away.Iam saving to buy a ticket when you next tour LONDON maybe you could play in Wembley stadium,i so want to be one of those lucky people ....just to be there hear the music, see you what more could anyone want.Love you love your music jeanette stent fan for life x x x x x x x x

almost 4 years ago

Dear Andre, Looking forward to watching your performance at the MEN Arena 29th September. You are a newly found artist for me and my family. Absolutely brilliant DVD recorded in Vienna.

about 4 years ago

Some months ago I begged for you to come to South Africa. Cant wait for Sunday 2 May when all my dreams come true. The one clapping and shouting the loudest is me!! The one dancing in the aisles will also be me. Where have you been all our lives? The six people going mad in the audience are me and my friends. Welkom in ons mooie land. Kom asseblief weer.

over 4 years ago

Dear Mr. Andre, I just watching yr performance on TV this afternoon which was recording on July 2009, yr return to Maastricht on your 60th b/day. It's given me endless pleasure. I'm Indonesian woman who lived in Darwin, Australia. I am looking forward to seeing yr performance in Darwin. My family love music very much.

over 4 years ago

Andre I have been watching your dvd's since 2006 and they have given me and my family and friends endless pleasure. I never get tired of listening to the glorious music and it just lifts my spirit each time I watch a dvd. You and your wonderful orchestra and singers bring much joy to us in South Africa and we are so glad to see that you are coming here in 2010.Thank you and God bless

over 4 years ago

How on earth have I only discovered you now?!! Was introduced to "Songs of the Heart" (Maastricht) Thought I had died and gone to music heaven. "Live in New York" what an experience! You are stunning, listened and watched the DVDs through the night. Please come to South Africa

about 5 years ago

Dear Andre The first dvd we watched was "The Flying Dutchman" - brilliant. Now we are your biggest fans and have almost all your dvd's. Your shows are absolutely fantastic. What good talent you and your orchestra have. PLEASE COME TO SOUTH AFRICA !!!! (See below the many requests). I can imagine you performing on Table Mountain or in the Winelands somewhere ... All the best.

about 5 years ago

In Andre's "In Wonderland" concert, he mentions that they have traveled all over the world except for one country...thought he was about to announce that they have never been to South Africa. That was not the case!!! Andre my dear, you have not yet been to S.A.! Don't forget us xxx

about 5 years ago

this is the first time i bought an andre rieu concert dvd and just seeing partially all the special features there, i immediately opened the internet for more info on the musician. and i think we will be enjoying the concert dvd this WEEKEND....as we all love music specially classical music performed with so much gusto and life...

about 5 years ago

Hi Andre ,I just want to tell you that you are the best,and that only you can succed to make young people seat down and listen the classic music,u are the best ,I allways enjoy when I listen to you,I just hope that you will come some day in Macedonia,our little country but full with people hungr for culture and good musicians,I wish you the best 'cause you are the best.

about 5 years ago

Only such a talent as Andre can bring so much joy and pleasure to the many who listen and watch him and every weekend i listen to his dvds and never tire of any of them - he has converted me into listening to this glorious music he plays and takes me back to memories of my father -as Andre has said in one or two of his dvds - music touches the heart and it certainly does mine it brings tears to my eyes while i watch and listen - my thanks to Andre, his orchestra and his family for all the pleasure they have brought to my life - THANK YOU SO MUCH

about 5 years ago

Fantasties! Fantasties! Wish you will come and visit South Africa.

about 5 years ago

Well, I hope i will see him in San Diego this 2009. This kind of artist won´t be at my country -Mexico- never, so i will go to USA just to see him!-

over 5 years ago

I am looking forward to seeing Andre when he comes back to Australia in 2009. I missed the 2008 concerts because I had to have surgery.

over 5 years ago

He's so talented and my dream is to see is performance here in Thailand. God Bless you in your profession.

over 5 years ago

Just watched the Andre Rieu Strauss Waltzes on DVD here in Texas! So-o-o uplifting and fun & transported us to another world! Keep up the good work, Maestro!

over 5 years ago

I like to inform you that Andre Rieu was born in 1949 and not in 1950 as mentioned in this website.

over 5 years ago

Maestro: I attended your Melbourne concert on Friday November 14. I left an envelope containing a manuscript with a stage hand who said he would attempt to get it to a responsible person for handing to you. The concert was fine.....I felt that it is time for you to take a key solo spot and would suggest Kreisler's Caprice viennois. You know it is relatively brief...but with lights down and a soft spotlight ......you would inject a "WOW" factor that I felt was missing for a lot of friday evening (for me)...bearing in mind that I have seen a huge quantity of your work. May your greatness never diminish

over 5 years ago

www.AndreRieuFans.com Andre Rieu's concerts have grown over the years, but they still bring us the Fun & Beautiful Music we enjoy. Come to the #1 Andre Rieu Fan website and share your stories. We have a lot of information and photogrpahs. :)

over 5 years ago

I just finished watching a concert of Andre Rieu on T.V., PBS to be exact, and I enjoyed it so much that I am here at my computer to find out more about him. I thought maybe he was French, according to the name. I was fascinated by his soulful facial expressions and just carried away by the music - I love to walz but seldom get the opportunity anymore. I am here in Montreal, and will certainly try to make that concert in April, here at the Bell Center. He certainly is brilliant and very entertaining to watch, everyone seemed to be having such a wonderful time. What a great change from the ordinary type of music.

over 5 years ago

Please, a photo of Marjorie and your other son! Love your DVD's, wish you will come to South Africa. Your music, orchestra, a feast for mind, body and soul! God bless you all! kind regards, Annette Beukes, Sasolburg, South Africa.

over 5 years ago

I have several of Andrei Rieu's DVD's and I never get tired of watching them over and over again. He's fantastic. I hope he comes and performs in the Philippines in the near future.

over 5 years ago

Where is Marjorie and what does she look like? Never seen her anywhere? Andre is brilliant

over 5 years ago

Long live Andre Rieu!!!

over 5 years ago

Just finished watching a wonderful concert of Andre Rieu from Radio City Music Hall in New York City on PBS Station. Not since the easy style of the late Conducter Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra have I had so much fun with the beautiful music of the evening. Has it been 1996 since Andre Rieu has toured the United States? We must bring him back. When he does I strongly urge everyone to bring the children for a wonderful suprise of Andre's music style. God Bless Everyone...

almost 6 years ago

Sounds on my evening walk include: Train whistle, barking dogs, car horns unattended and honking, airplanes zooming overhead, motorcycles. Nevermind: My MP3 player is up to the challenge. It is Andre Rieu with full orchestra, including sopranos lifting me above the worldly noises to the music of Beethoven's Ode to Joy", the triumphal march fromm "AidaP, the superb arrangement from "Titanic" I must thank Andre Rieu when I get some time for adding to my good health and sending my spirit soaring- This seems to be the chance to do so. Thanks Patricia Edwards

almost 6 years ago

I AM SO LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING ANDRE LIVE FOR THE FIRST TIME ON NOV,15th WHERE HAS HE BEEN ALL MY LIFE? I TRY TO WATCH ONE OF HIS VIDEO'DAILY, is'ent HE SMASHING, With all our LOVE TO YOU ALL. PAT.