CLUB PEOPLE • January 2016
Since forming the Johann Strauss Orchestra in 1987, the Dutch violinist, conductor and BA Silver Executive Club Member, André Rieu has toured the world, bringing classical and waltz music to a global audience. Here he shares his musical travel memories
Where’s your favourite place to perform?
Every July, the Johann Strauss Orchestra plays eight open-air concerts in front of 80,000 people in the Vrijthof in Maastricht. Not only is it a beautiful medieval square, but it’s also in my hometown, which makes it very special.
Where’s the strangest place you’ve performed?
Playing Dmitri Shostakovich’s Second Waltz at the Olympic Stadium Amsterdam at half-time during the Ajax vs Bayern Munich match in 1995. Standing in front of tens of thousands of cheering fans was surreal. You can watch it on YouTube.
Which destinations inspire your music?
Vienna, of course. Schönbrunn Palace (pictured at top) has played a vital part in my career, as has Johann Strauss. Every time I perform, the set-list includes his By the Beautiful Blue Danube. As a composer, I’ve also been inspired by Belgium. My song December Lights is based on the moment I met my (now) wife Marjorie in Brussels.
What makes a hotel great?
It’s nice if there’s a cosy bar with a piano. On many occasions, the orchestra, soloists and I have spent hours after a concert at the hotel bar, singing, laughing and playing the piano. The room doors open and people come down to join us.
What’s your ideal countryside escape?
I’d love to visit the Austrian Alps (pictured below) near Salzburg. I’d try to find Julie Andrews somewhere in a convent, dressed as Fräulein Maria, and ask her for a dance.
What’s on your iPod when you travel?
Funnily enough, I rarely listen to music on flights, probably because I’m surrounded by music all day. If I do plug in, I listen to classical, world hits and jazz.
What does British Airways mean to you?
Great customer service and the very British welcome you get on board. I also like the lounges. They’re a great way to get peace and quiet. I love reading a newspaper or having a quick cup of coffee there before my flight.
Roman Holiday, the latest album from André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra, is out now on Decca Records
Interview by Tamara Hinson