The king of waltz talks lockdown baking, music snobs and missing the stage.
Where were you when lockdown was announced?
We were on tour in America and, during the interval of the concert, President Trump announced not to go to concerts any more, so we did the second half of the show and then I told the orchestra: “We go home”. That was March 13 and we have been home ever since.
Has it given you time to do things you wouldn’t usually do?
I don’t know why, but the moment I came back from America, I started to bake and I’ve continued to bake every day. I like cooking but I’d never baked before. The house smells good and it’s so uplifting. The whole street knows at 4pm that it’s cake time. My son lives nearby and has 10-year-old twins. Lately their friends have been calling them and asking if their grandfather will be coming round with cakes, so there are a lot of kids around every afternoon.
What can we expect from your new cinema special, Magical Maastricht?
For the last 15 years we have performed concerts in the big square here in Maastricht and this year there is nothing, so my wife, Marjorie, and I have made a compilation of the last 15 years from the square. It was hard to pick the highlights but I think the result is very beautiful. It was also painful to sit in the studio and see these clips and not be able to just jump up on stage.
You’ve been described as bringing classical music to the masses – was this always your aim?
What I hate is certain people in classical music thinking they are more than other people, and that’s what I want to change. We play in arenas and open-airs rather than concert halls on purpose. I try to play all the music we play as honestly and as well as possible. And when we do a very classical piece we tell people to dance if they want to dance, or cry or sing. Afterwards, people say to me it was beautiful and that makes me happy, because when you bring it to another setting, people realise they love classical music.
Why did you want to have your own orchestra?
My father was the conductor of a classical orchestra and I saw all the problems regarding unions – people didn’t talk about music, but whether it was too hot or too cold, or more money or more holidays, so I knew I wanted my own orchestra and then I would do everything in a different way. I didn’t know it would become so big, and it was a hard way to do things but, like my personal trainer says, “Andre, you should always choose the hardest way, not the lightest way”. He’s right, because the reward is always much bigger.
André Rieu’s Magical Maastricht – Together In Music is in cinemas from September 18
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