André Rieu was born in Maastricht, the Netherlands, in 1949. The son of a professional conductor, he grew up listening to classical music and started taking violin lessons at the age of five. He continued formal musical training on the violin at the conservatoire in Liège (Belgium) and later in Maastricht under Jo Juda and Herman Krebbers. He later attended the conservatoire in Brussels, where he received violin tuition from André Gertier.
Three years after getting married, his first son Marc was born and Rieu founded his first orchestra, the Maastricht Salon Orchestra. In 1987 he started recruiting for his Johann Strauss Orchestra, a 12-man operation that rehearsed for six months.
The release of “From Holland with Love” in 1994 sparked a waltz revival in the Netherlands. “This was the breakthrough for me,” he remembers. “One of the pieces on it is the ‘Second Waltz’, a beautiful, very melancholy waltz. Really, the piece is called ‘Waltz No. 2 from Jazz Suite No. 2’ by Dmitry Shostakovich, but it would probably never have been a hit with a title like that.” The album stayed in the Top 10 for more than a year.
At an international football match in Amsterdam stadium in 1995, André Rieu filled the half-time interval with the “Second Waltz”, immediately picking up thousands of new TV fans across Holland and Germany. After a concert in Hamburg and several TV appearances, “From Holland with Love” stayed for months in the German charts and received several gold and platinum disks.
The following albums, “The Vienna I Love” and the live “In Concert”, charted in many countries. An extensive concert tour in 1997 took the orchestra across half of Europe. But they took the time to record “The Christmas I Love”. On “Romantic Moments”, Rieu dipped into other classical sources. “This CD is totally different from all the others,” he remembers. “I like listening to that kind of music when I have time to dream. Antonin Dvorak’s music really puts me in a happy, contented mood.”
To mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Johann Strauss (in June 1999), André Rieu released the “100 Years of Strauss.” 2001 saw the first trip to Japan. A year later, his second son Pierre joined the business, managing the technical production aspects of the concerts and recordings. The second product from our own studio, ‘Walzertraum’ is issued in 7 versions all over the world!
The orchestra continued to tour and record, notably organising “Romantic Paradise Special” at a series of free concerts in the Italian town of Cortona. The album was later nominated for the Rose d’or. In July, André gave a spectacular concert for 18,000 people in the Parkstad Limburg Stadium in Kerkrade, the Netherlands. The performance was released as “The Flying Dutchman”. It was followed by extensive touring North America and – in 2005 – the first of a memorable series of shows in the Vrijthof Square, Maastricht with a special appearance from the Harlem Gospel Choir. One week after that the same choir joined André on the stage in their own home town, New York, where a second special was recorded in the famous Radio City Music Hall. Both specials appeared on DVD; the new CD reflected the New York special.
Throughout 2006 and 2007, the Johann Strauss orchestra continued to tour and appear in TV specials, notably ‘Romance’ which was released by German TV. In October 2008 Rieu became the first artist in history to have 9 DVDs in the top 10 in Australia! A double CD and DVD, ‘In Wonderland’, was then recorded in the Efteling amusement park. In December, he performed at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada, the world’s largest indoor stadium, in a reproduction of Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace. This was the kick-off for the big ‘World Stadium Tour: A Romantic Vienna Night’. The show featured artists such as the Platinum Tenors, the Vienna State Opera Ballet, 80 Viennese Debutantes, the Empress Sissi and Emperor Franz Joseph in a golden coach and the Vienna Figure Skating Association. In September the entire company together with two castles was flown and shipped across to Australia ready for the concerts there entitled ‘A Romantic Vienna Night’. In March André Rieu set a new record: in Australia the millionth item was sold. Australia was completely under the spell of André Rieu.
On 7 April 2008 André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra received a gold Medal of Honour, Maastricht’s highest distinction, from Geerd Leers, Mayor of Maastricht.
News about an André Rieu concert