André Léon Marie Nicolas Rieu (Dutch: [ˈɑndreː riˈjøː], French: [ɑ̃dʁe ʁjø]; born 1 October 1949) is a Dutch violinist and conductor best known for creating the waltz-playing Johann Strauss Orchestra.
Rieu and his orchestra have turned classical and waltz music into a worldwide concert touring act. He resides in his native Maastricht.
The name Rieu is of French Huguenot origin, though both of Rieu's parents were Roman Catholic. André was born to Andries Antonie Rieu and is the third of six children.
Rieu's father was conductor of the Maastricht Symphony Orchestra. Showing early promise, André began studying violin at the age of five. From a very early age, he developed a fascination with orchestra. He studied violin at the Conservatoire Royal in Liège and at the Conservatorium Maastricht, (1968–1973), studying under Jo Juda and Herman Krebbers.
From 1974 to 1977, he attended the Music Academy in Brussels, studying with André Gertler. He completed his training with the distinction "Premier Prix" from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.
He married Marjorie Kochmann in 1975. She has been a language teacher and has written compositions. They have two sons.
He speaks six languages: Dutch, English, German, French, Italian and Spanish.
Rieu created the Johann Strauss Orchestra in 1987 and began with 12 members, giving its first concert on 1 January 1988. As of 2020, he performs with between 50 and 60 musicians. Rieu plays a 1667 Stradivarius violin.
Rieu and his orchestra have appeared throughout Europe, North and South America, Japan, and Australia. In 2008, Rieu's tour featured a full-size reproduction of Empress Sisi's Castle, the biggest stage to have gone on tour at that time.
For two weeks in 2013, one of the channels of the BSkyB group, Sky Arts 2 in the UK, was renamed as Sky Arts Rieu. Between 30 March and 14 April 2013 Sky Arts Rieu broadcast Rieu concerts and documentaries 24 hours per day.
Rieu also composed music for the 2014 film Tuscan Wedding.
Chris Boyd, a critic writing for Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper, did not criticize his playing, but described Rieu's main stage function as "blarney and delegation."
Eamon Kelly wrote in The Australian newspaper: "It is disappointing to see professional journalists indulging in cheap, inaccurate stereotypes to dismiss criticism of Rieu." He also wrote: "Equally misguided are those who cursorily dismiss Rieu. Rieu's live and recorded performances have brought joy to millions of people. Few in his audiences are regular classical music attendees and it could be seen as promising that, via Rieu, they are listening to standards of the classical canon. The fact that Rieu's focus is on highly accessible, enjoyable repertoire is not an argument against his musical credentials."
By December 2008, Rieu had achieved his 100th platinum accreditation in Australia and by May 2011, Rieu had sold over $50 million worth of wholesale shipments of his CDs and DVDs in Australia and was the highest-selling music artist in the Australian market between 2006 and 2011.
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