World renowned musician and conductor, Andre Rieu, was due to visit Ireland for two concerts this month. Born and raised in Maastricht, in the Netherlands, he still lives there with his family in a castle once owned by a French muskateer. Thomas Myler shines a light into the life of this master performer who has given classical music a whole new lease of life.
With an eclectic mixture of waltzes, popular music, evergreen melodies, comedy and pathos, Andre Rieu and his 60-piece Johann Strauss Orchestra have become as successful as some of the biggest global pop and rock acts. The Dutchman has been named by the influential US magazine Billboard as the most successful touring artiste in the world.
Famously dubbed the ‘Waltz King,’ Rieu was due to play the SSE Arena in Belfast on April 16 and the 3 Arena in Dublin the following night. Those concerts have been rescheduled, and all tickets will be valid for the new shows.
Having turned 71 last October, Andre has shown no signs of slowing down, if his busy schedule is any guide. He continues touring throughout Europe, North and South America, Japan, and Australia. ‘I enjoy what I do,’ he says, ‘making people happy. What can be more important than that in this very troubled world of ours?
‘I have the experience and I know how to melt people’s hearts. People propose to each other all the time at our concerts. I see romantic couples down there when we come on stage and start up the music.
‘In the beginning they just sit nicely to each other. Then, after the break, the husband will put his arm around his wife, and during the encore there’s nothing but kissing.
‘I look all over the audience. They are caught up in a state of mass hysteria – unrestrained crying, hugging and kissing wherever you look. It’s honestly not staged for the cameras. It’s the truth. What happens very often is that people come to our concerts in a wheelchair and walk home!
‘So the music is not only romantic, it’s healing. People dance in the aisles and they’re so happy they throw away their sticks or crutches. It’s true. It gives them much energy to be happy.’