Filed Under:

Andre Rieu On The Allure Of The Waltz

Play associated audio

On a list of the world's highest-grossing tours of last year, you'll find a lot of familiar names: U2, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga. And then, at No. 9, is an outlier: Andre Rieu, Dutch violinist and conductor of the Johann Strauss Orchestra.

In the course of the last 25 years, Rieu's efforts to popularize classical music — particularly the waltzes that Strauss made famous in the 19th century — have made him one of the the most commercially successful classical artists in history. His latest release is an album and DVD of Christmas music called Home for the Holidays. Here, he discusses it, along with his beginnings as a musician and his home life in a Dutch castle, with NPR's Guy Raz.


Interview Highlights

On waltz music

"My father was a conductor, and [his concerts included] all sorts of classical music. And then, during the encores, he loved to play Strauss waltzes. I was in the audience when I was a little boy, and what I saw during these concerts [was] that the audience was very concentrated and stiff, you know? Nobody dared to move when he played his classical music. But then, during his encores, the whole audience around me started to move, and to hum, and to dance, and to smile, and it was a completely different audience. And that struck me: I thought, 'My God, this is what I want to do.' "

On building his orchestra

"I choose musicians who want to make music not for money, and not because they want to have more [vacation] or whatever. No, because they love to be on stage together with other musicians and to make music. And that's, of course, in that way also we play the waltzes. I was so angry when I was in a symphony orchestra myself. ... All my colleagues were speaking only about the union, and 'We want more money,' and 'It's too cold here,' and 'When is the holiday?' Nobody spoke about, 'Oh my god, the concert yesterday was so beautiful' — never."

On living in his hometown in the Netherlands

"I met [my wife] here in Maastricht, and I was born here, I was married here, I have my children here. It's nice to live here in the castle. We have an airport 10 minutes from home. ... People always ask me, 'Why don't you move to New York or London?' And they'll be in traffic every day for two to three hours. You know, when I go to my studio at the other side of the city, it's 10 minutes when my driver drives and three minutes when [I drive]. So it's a luxury."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Theeb' Looks At Middle East History Through The Eyes Of A Bedouin Boy

The Oscar-nominated film is set in 1916 Saudi Arabia, a pivotal time in the region. Director Naji Abu Nowar says he wanted to explore "how strange and surreal it must have been" for the Bedouins.
NPR

Beer And Snack Pairings: A Super Bowl Game Everyone Can Win

Which beer goes with guacamole? How can a brew complement spicy wings? Two craft beer experts share their favorite pairings and help us take our Super Bowl snack game to the next level.
NPR

Tourists Flock To New Hampshire For Front Row Seat To Presidential Politics

NPR's Robert Siegel reports on people who are not involved in presidential campaigns traveling to New Hampshire to observe the action surrounding the primary. There are families trying to give their kids a civics lesson, couples trying to see presidential politics up close, and groups of students who serve as interns for campaigns as part of their studies.
NPR

OK, Google, Where Did I Put My Thinking Cap?

It can be too easy for students to Google an assignment before they stop to think about it. Some researchers say we're losing our critical thinking and memory skills by relying on the search bar.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.