Andre Rieu - The Year That Almost Changed His Life
The Year That Almost Changed André Rieu's Life
AMSTERDAM - Andre Rieu's dream was almost destroyed. His tour of Australia in 2008 with him and his orchestra almost cost him everything. "I do not mind to die poor," says the 60-year old violin virtuoso. "But I was almost ready to dismiss all my band members. It was really that close.
Dressed in a long elegant coat, an umbrella above the head, Andre Rieu is in a snow storm waiting for me at the station of Maastricht. The gentleman says, "My annual financial figures are now out. This will bring on a storm of comments."
Andre the galant opens the door of his Mercedes. He waves to a stray marieke dancer in thick tights supported by a drummer with a party hat. (part of Carnaval I presume) They look at him with sympathy. Maastricht feels for the city friend, who this year gives no less than eight concerts on the Vrijthof.
This is the only interview that he gives about the low point in his financial situation that is now happily in the past. "It is crazy. I have everything processed. It's been sixteen months later. We are almost even. I am also a little proud. We were so deep in the misery that we have a loan of 23 million euros needed from the Rabobank. Now everything is almost eliminated. In silence we had gone along the edge of the abyss ... It could be a tragedy, but it is well past. "
On his way to work at his stately castle he is relaxed steering through the city: "If we had 23 million euro in posters hung around the world, we would not have such a great marketing effect as now. I admit: it was very extreme. And to Marjorie and the gentlemen of the bank I must promise that I will never do this again. But the world is now at our feet. We are even negotiating a major tour of America. The manager of Michael Jackson and the man from the record company have been here this week.
My son Pierre has everything arranged. He said they come here, we do not have an interview there. Then they are really interested. Pierre is the business talent, I am the dreamer. It is envisaged that we will play in the forty stadiums in America where we can have the Schönbrunn castles. "
These castles were still at the source of the financial misery?
"True, but they are already built, eh. I have close to seven million euros in steel stored. We now have even three castles. A prototype and two more automated and require less manpower to build. The millions are flying out the door. There was no respect. We had to build one last castle because we are not fast enough to bring them from one side of Australia to the other. Another three million euros needed. And then we had to swallow because a beautiful castle of Styrofoam was rejected by the firemen. We now have had a ton of pressed foam purchased. Well, that was only the beginning. "
In his own castle, sitting by the crackling fireplace in elegant French furniture, Andre Rieu thinks for a moment, points to an oval table with about eight chairs around it. "There were the bankers. They had come from Utrecht, the local men from Maastricht could help no more. We talked for one day. It was just before the tour to Australia began. I had a lot more money needed. We had to go, we had 270,000 tickets sold. Everything was ready. Yes, it was all perfect. We flew from Vienna to the ballet, six white Lipizzaner horses, we had a golden carriage, there were fountains built as they really are are also at Schönbrunn Castle. There were people who asked me: did you really need ballet in Vienna? There are also dancers in Australia yet? And Ivo Niehe, who went along to Melbourne, was amazed that the show had perfect tenors. But I'm a perfectionist. I want to achieve dreams and leave people breathless. That did it again. "
"Pierre will make his father happy, and do everything possible to make reality from the stories in my head. But with this project, I might still be too far gone. He has been a bit exhausted by all the work. I felt intuitively that I also went over the edge. When we let the bankers come, I said to Marjorie: I do not die rich but I see now that it is nice to have some money soon for our care as we age. I do not need a nursing home, where a lovely nurse determines if I should go to the toilet. "
Andre Rieu is meditating: "One of the bankers suggested that we not tour Australia but then had to let that go. There was so much money invested, the tickets were sold. If we had not gone, we were really all together gone bankrupt and had to fire everyone. And then I have no more manpower to earn everything back and I had just been back to square one. Twenty years ago I had a job at the Limburg Symphony Orchestra and an ordinary house, it was something for the country. So I have everything I owned as collateral, real estate, cars, the stuff, the Stradivarius ... I was totally stripped. But we had another six million euro deficit. "
He smiles triumphantly: "The bankers moaned and I thought: it is about now. In one half hour on the telephone, I was able to get the six million euros. When I got my three million from the record company it was because I gave the rights of a number of DVDs to them. I called my German supervisor. I said, is it now worth three million euros for three years when I renew? I immediately received resounding yes. The bankers were there to have red cheeks. But they did not say immediately that it was good. They gave us four days sweat. "
Did you sleep in those days?
"I always sleep. I can expand my mind very well. Also concerts, just before I take a nap, because I feel that I should give the energy to the orchestra. That way we can all give back a new top performance. You will think it strange, I concluded that to lose money was not the worst things that could be. Marjorie and the boys were there. But I admit, it was really too exciting. When there came from Utrecht the answer yes, we raised the glasses. Nothing overdone because the great recovery begins . They said sternly to me: Now you must continue to play a few years longer, Mr. Rieu. But I was already planning that. And so we got a windfall. We sold more tickets than expected, the DVD's were great. We were constantly above the 11 million limit of 23 million. And now, thanks to a good year last year, I'm almost completely off the debt. "
The orchestra members have not felt the financial situation; how critical it was: "I have told them everything, but I took the risk himself. I have not asked whether they wanted to play for less or something. It was my responsibility and they trusted me. This has made our relationship even closer. "
Andre Rieu gave even his Stradivarius a pledge: "I'm positive. I was counting on possibly a few years would buy her back. And how I love that violin I also know it remains only a thing. It is also one of the last violins made by Stradivarius violin master. It was built in 1732 and is a great violin. I already had a Stradivarius, which is much smaller, from the beginning. During his career Stradivarius instruments are increasing because the rooms were bigger and louder sound was needed. I brought my violin back to the dealer in Vienna who priced it for three million euros. I had secretly one million imposed for the bank because he had two million-worth and I did not really want to lose it naturally, and I kept her. "
He shrugs: "When we started to go well, fifteen years ago, the violins started coming to me. A week after his death I had the violin Yehudi Menuhin had. But this instrument was too classical, too serious, too cold. My violin is tuneful and warm, more suited for the waltz. "
Andre Rieu chuckles: "It was not really for the first time that I had to pledge to the bank. At the beginning it was for eighty thousand francs. That was my first stereo when I was alone in the salon orchestra, and all parties went off. It took only one month, but even the birds in the aviary were owned by the bank. "
What is the difference between your misery and that of Marco Borsato?
"I've almost blundered with the castles that I built. But eccentric decorations have made for so much publicity that I am now on the U.S. lists as the best selling male artist in the world. Marco's company has bought other companies that did not go well. I remained with w
Never, Andre Rieu has promised he will build castles. But son Pierre is now working to see if he can reproduce the entire Vrijthof. Andre Rieu laughs: "Right. I am eight years this time in the open air at the Vrijthof. Marjorie rightly said that I obviously can not always be lucky with the weather. In Brisbane we lost nearly 3 million because we were held up by one storm and thought it would cancel. But it stopped blowing. Anyway we look at what we in the MECC in Maastricht congress can do. Pierre has a piece of the Vrijthof built, it would reach 1 million euro. But that is far too much. Pierre is now working with sponsors. He wants to prevent a new financial drama for his father. "
The violin virtuoso smiles: "The father of Marjorie is a fugitive Jew. He has twice in his life lost his entire fortune. In World War I and World War II. And his life is in danger. What we have seen is nothing compared to that.
(Thanks to Prudence for finding this story)