André Rieu has been called a "musical phenomenon," and it's easy to see why. Along with his Johann Strauss Orchestra, he has taken music that at one time was for the privileged, and introduced it to the masses. And he's done it successfully.
The Dutch conductor and violinist's concerts often outsell rock acts like Bruce Springsteen, and his debut album outsold the "King of Pop," Michael Jackson. But for the "King of Waltz," it's not about numbers or money, but about love and passion. "We never play, oh my god, for money tonight, it's always, always 100 percent with your heart" he told me in a recent interview.
Rieu started his orchestra 30 years ago, and he says "most of the people have been with me for 20 or 25 years. For me, making music is the most beautiful thing in life...it's the art form that touches your heart."
Make no mistake, seeing Rieu and his orchestra play is more than just a concert, it's two and half hours of entertainment, laughter and pure showmanship.
Rieu says if it looks like he and his orchestra are having fun on stage it's because "we are having fun." Making music in that way together, I tell you, it’s better than sex” Rieu says laughing, but he knows his audience wants to see more than just him conducting 60 plus musicians. "I'm not the person who says I'm the most important, I like to stand back, I think a good football (soccer) player is the one who is the boss, but he lets (someone else) the other make the goal, then the team wins, and that's important."
While he won't be spending much time in Sacramento after his concert, Rieu told me he likes to get out and see the places he visits, even if it's for a short time. He also enjoys a glass of wine or champagne and a lavish meal with members of his orchestra after the show.
In a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper Rieu was said he often wonders what composer Johann Strauss would think of him today. His answer-“I think he would be angry that he doesn’t get paid! Because Verdi, you see, was much cleverer" Rieu says laughing. When I play Verdi, I still have to pay his publisher. But this gift of Strauss I have completely for free.”
(Listen to the entire interview below. Andre Rieu And His Johann Strauss Orchestra will perform at Golden One Center On October 25th at 8p.m. Tickets are still available).