Andre Rieu - The Year That Almost Changed His Life

                                                                                       Photo by Per

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
hat I can do well.
Now Marco is doing well,  he will also get better. "

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)

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  • February 22, 2010 Joy McKenzie wrote:
    WOW What a story and what a horrid time for the Rieu heart goes out to them, but now that things are starting to come good for them all I am doing the Happy dance.......The family deserves to prosper as they give us so much joy and that includes the JSO.
    May God bless you all
    Joy in Melbourne
  • February 22, 2010 Linda wrote:
    Dear André, I am truly so thankful that everything work out well for you and I know, you not only give us extremely great pleasure listening to your wonderful music but you are truly blessed by God with your amazing talent. God bless and may you go from strength to strength. We cannot wait to hear you in Cape Town.
  • February 23, 2010 Joy McKenzie wrote:
    I sent an e-mail for this particular subject earlier today but it has not been put up on this something wrong????
    Thanks in advancce
    1. February 23, 2010 Moderator Jeanine Ann wrote:

      Hi Joy,  I think the comment is on now.  Could be that all of us were busy and did not get it on right away.  Sorry for any delay. Hugs

  • February 23, 2010 Gosse Bosma wrote:
    Whatever happened to Akim Camara after, at the age of five,he played with Andre Rieu in New York? I would really like to know how this prodigy is doing.
    His talent is unique. The difference between his playing as a 3-year old and as a 5-year old is incredible. I would love to hear more now that he is few years older. Anyone out there who knows?

    1. February 24, 2010 mildred wrote:
      Maybe you will find him on U-tube? I haven't looked yet, but will send you the url if I find him now. I do know his young female teen trumpeter made a CD
    2. February 24, 2010 mildred wrote:
      This site says he is playing with Richard Clayderman in 2009 Look it up and enjoy Ave Maria. There is comment of him on Yahoo too!
  • February 23, 2010 Susan wrote:
    Thanks for this story. Well written and quite an insight to the man and his passion. I can understand Andre's impulse and desire for the best to be done, not wanting to let down his fans whom he committed to with pre sold tickets and while looking after his orchestra too. Close shave. Well done on Pierre for his expertise with Andre & Marjorie's vision. RISK TAKERS but it succeeded. I am sure he will die a very rich man!
  • February 23, 2010 Shirley wrote:
    Well done Jeanine Ann,
    You put this translation together & made sense out of it. I am not surprised to read that Andre came close to the edge here. If it took 80 containers to transport all this, not to mention all the other stuff, it had to be a monumental & expensive task. I think most people would have been happy just to see an ordinary concert, but Andre likes to do things in a big way doesn't he? Even his dreams are big. I think he must always think, "if I can dream it, I can do it"!
  • February 23, 2010 Narelle wrote:
    wow what an article,what a worry for Andre & his family, i'm personally very gratfull he can continue entertaining us, we love all His dvds &many cds soothes my mind &soul thank you Andr'e we in Australia love you. Fay & Narelle
  • February 23, 2010 Inge Cossette wrote:
    I am not surprised at all. I always thought that Schönbrunn castle could bring him in the red. I hope he learned his lesson, that the fans who love him do not need such extravagance.
    1. February 23, 2010 WebMaster Sally wrote:
      You Write Words of Wisdom Inge .
      1. February 23, 2010 Moderator Jeanine Ann wrote:

        Well I guess you know that I am going to defend Andre.  When you have a dream of bringing the very best to your fans you don't always think of the financial consequences should things not turn out the way you dream they will.  Andre is a dreamer, big time.  I understand that.  If you are going to dream you want to dream big and that is what Andre does.  He wants only the best for his fans and that is what we get when we go to a concert.  We are very happy to accept the results of his hard work and expense, how can we then say that maybe he has learned his lesson?  Sure we pay for the tickets but what he gives us cannot be measured in terms of dollars and cents.  He gives all of himself for those 2 to 3 hours on the stage and even then we still demand more of him and his time.  Maybe he did go overboard on the Schonnbraun (sp) concerts but he did it for us, the fans.  We know that he is not in it for the money - that is quite evident. 

        We all make bad decisions, business-wise, family-wise and emotionally.  Most of us make the decisions with the best motives in mind.  Not too many of us mean to hurt ourselves, our families and our friends.  If Andre wants to live his dreams big, let him live them.  If he falls every now and then he will pick himself up.  He is doing it for his fans and I, for one, appreciate what he does.  : )

  • February 24, 2010 Silvana Lucato wrote:
    Fantastic Jeanine. I agree with you. Kisses. Silvana Lucato , from São Paulo Brazil
    1. February 24, 2010 Moderator Jeanine Ann wrote:

      Thank you Silvana.  Big hugs

  • February 24, 2010 Marlene Warren wrote:
    I enjoyed reading this article very much. I appreciate the honesty and I also appreciate the personal level at which he shared.
    In this challenge that André had (and even though it was his choice)I feel that he did it for the fans. I assume that he did care that he made a profit, but I also felt the other side of the coin and that he was doing this to share with his fans the beauty and grace, the history and the fantastic music that the Schönbrunn is representative of.

    I'm certainly happy that André is back in the black again, as I would not like to think of him having to start from scratch.

    I think it goes to show you that André is special in many ways, not only his violin music, but his intelligence as well. I also appreciate the closeness he and his family have together, makes me jealous and happy all in one. Family is a beautiful thing to share, so is happiness, music, love and life...André seems to have all this rolled into one and he is one fantastic Maestro!
  • February 25, 2010 Narelle Roberts wrote:
    this great man and his family ,the jso people give us so much of their talents, to say thank you seem a bit lousy but THANK YOU ANDE'E NELLY
  • February 28, 2010 Carole L. Miller wrote:
    Dearest Andre, God Bless you for coming thru a difficult time. Remember your words about how music can make everything better. You are right; it has gotten me thru many heart-breaking times. I will pray for you every day, and just look at those darling 3 baby faces, and somehow that will make everything okay. By the way, I also have twin girls. Truly a gift from God. God keep you and yours safe and happy. As long as you have each other, you have everything.
  • March 1, 2010 Narelle Roberts wrote:
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