King of the waltz: André Rieu

By admin
19 March 2010

This guy knows exactly what he’s worth and with more than 30 million CDs and DVDs sold André Rieu probably has little cause for modesty.

Which male artist sold the most albums worldwide last year? That’s right, it’s Rieu. At 60, with three grandchildren, he’s still a sex symbol. Women throw bras and panties at him and send him love letters.

“I’m world famous,” he says nonchalantly. “Doctors ask me how I do it – people come to my shows in wheelchairs or on crutches and end up dancing. There may be a sick old woman who has been in hospital for 25 years but when someone plays her my music there’s a smile on her face.”

This Dutch violinist who has made classical music accessible to ordinary people is a one-man industry. He has no fewer than 380 people working for him, including the members of his Johann Strauss orchestra of which he, naturally, is the conductor. “I amaze my musicians every night,” he says while, as he often does, breaking eye contact to look at something over your shoulder.

A swarm of security guards follows him wherever he goes, whispering to one another via tiny microphones and earpieces, making sure he’s not troubled by deranged fans. His violin (from 1667) alone is worth millions and the maestro himself is far more valuable.

Rieu is on a whirlwind promotional visit to SA in preparation for a series of concerts next month in which he’ll again charm audiences, mostly with his renditions of composer Johann Strauss’ waltzes.

Rieu and his orchestra, founded in 1987, perform to about 700 000 people a year. And, he says, nothing ever goes wrong at his shows.

“I’m afraid everything is always perfect,” he says, lifting an eyebrow ever so slightly.

*Read more about the kind of waltz, his rise to fame and his spectacular shows in the latest YOU (25 March issue).

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