Dutch violinist and orchestral conductor Andre Rieu was born in Maastricht, Netherlands in October 1949. Having grown up the son of an orchestral conductor, Rieu's passion for classical music was instilled in him from a very young age.
“My father was a conductor, and I remember the huge orchestra and the wonderful sound it made, all those bows moving together,I thought it was fantastic, ” Rieu says. He showed early promise, picking up a violin for the first time at just five years old.
Rieu spent his early adulthood studying the violin at the Conservatoire Royal in Liege and the Conservatorium Maastricht before attending the Music Academy in Brussels, where he completed his training with the distinction “Premier Prix” from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.
In 1987, Rieu gathered 12 musicians and created the Johann Strauss Orchestra. The orchestra has since grown dramatically, boasting a total of 70 members.
Crowned the “King of Waltz” by the media, Andre Rieu is credited with transforming the atmosphere that surrounds classical music. From an early age, he had his sights set on making the genre more accessible to people all around the globe.
“I can remember being surprised at the somber atmosphere during the concerts,” he said, reflecting on memories from his childhood and his father’s orchestra. “Everybody looked so serious, you weren't supposed to cough or laugh, even though the music seemed to me to radiate so much joy!”
Rieu worked towards transforming his dreams into a reality, single-handedly shattering the idea that the world of classical music should be anything but fun, thrilling, or exciting. Following in the footsteps of Johann Strauss himself, Rieu encourages his audience to get up out of their seats and dance in the aisles.
“You know that solemn atmosphere you find in the concert hall with classical music, and how it intimidates most people and keeps them away? With us, it is simply not there,” he says.
“My orchestra consists of young, enthusiastic musicians, who put their heart and soul into the music every evening when they play in our concerts. At one of our concerts you'll see me and the orchestra, and the audience too, all having a lot of fun together. Swaying with the music, humming along, clapping, jumping up and down - it all happens! Every evening is a wonderful experience, and in my view, there couldn't be a greater pleasure for a musician.”
André Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra is the largest private orchestra in the world. Rieu and his orchestra have established themselves as one of the most prominent touring acts in music since first performing together in 1987. Andre Rieu concerts draw more than 700,000 fans across five continents each year. The 2017-2018 Andre Rieu tour drew more than 150,000 American fans alone.
Dubbed “The Maestro of the Masses” by The New York Times, Rieu is known for his thrilling live performances, dazzling audiences with incredible costumes and sets. His 2008 tour featured a full-size reproduction of Empress Sisi’s Castle, making it the biggest stage to ever go on tour at the time.
The following year, he was the world’s most successful male touring artist, according to Billboard Magazine. An Andre Rieu concert simply is not complete without life-size ballrooms and ice rinks, thousands of balloons, and spectacular lighting effects that bring everything to life.
With over 40 million CDs and DVDs sold worldwide, top chart positions, platinum awards, and more than 700,000 fans attending his performances each year, Andre Rieu has established himself as one of the most prominent violinists and orchestral conductors in the world.
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