ANDRE Rieu never imagined while living in a tiny Brussels studio as a poor student that he could one day own a castle, but life had big plans for the Dutch violinist.
The 69 year old moved into his hometown Maastricht castle in the 1990s, but was familiar with the interior having had piano lessons there in his youth.
“It is the most romantic construction site you can ever imagine,” Rieu said.
“It asks a lot of maintenance; there are a 27 rooms and a big garden to look after.
“During the past years, an orangerie, containing a tropical garden with butterflies and koi fish, and a cloister have been added to the castle.”
Rieu grew up in a musical family where his father was a symphony orchestra conductor and all his siblings played at least one instrument, chosen for them by their mother.
“I owe her so much for choosing the violin for me, I can’t think of any other instrument that is able to translate my inner feelings so well,” he said.
“Their simultaneous movements during my father’s concerts left me with amazement every time I watched it – it was like magic how the bows moved up and down, all at the same time.”
Rieu went on to found his own Johann Strauss Orchestra in 1988, which has grown from 12 musicians to more than 60 men and women travelling the world and sharing the same dream – to let the world dance to the 3/4 rhythm of the waltz.
“I am convinced that classical music is meant for all of us, not just for the elite as some unfortunately think,” he said.
“All forms of art are for all of us; when you go to a museum, you’ll see people from all ages walking there. Music is just like that and my concerts prove it.”
Rieu returns to Australia for the first time with his popular Christmas concert, Christmas with Andre tour at RAC Arena November 24, featuring a mix of beautiful Christmas songs and romantic melodies; waltzes by Johann Strauss, arias from famous musicals, operas and more.
He will then tour the UK before returning home December 23 in time for the festive season with his wife Marjorie, children and grandchildren.
“My family is important to me and I would never want to be away during Christmas,” he said.
“I have five grandchildren, my sons cook a wonderful dinner and my wife enjoys decorating the Christmas tree. I am a very lucky man.”
What: Christmas with Andre
Where: RAC Arena
When: November 24