Andre Rieu recording - is this a blessing or a curse?

September 11, 2007 at 05:31 AM · Andre Rieu has recently recorded as one number on a CD a march written by a cousin of my grandfather ("Blaze Away" by Abe Holzmann, This piece has previously been recorded by more traditional, serious groups. I do not know much about Rieu except that he is popular and seems very commercial. My question is: should my family and I feel thrilled or slimed?

Replies (44)

September 11, 2007 at 05:47 AM · Quick, everybody! Put on your flameproof armor!

Personally, if Rieu recorded something I'd written, I'd feel definitely slimed, but to each his own.

September 11, 2007 at 06:08 AM · Most popgroups are honoured when their music is covered. I think the popular Andre Rieu, who plays in soccerstadiums promotes the name of your family with his cover. But my opinion is colored because I am a Rieufan, because he protomes violin playing for a broad non traditional classical educated public and don't need financial support from the government, like nearly all professional orchestra's.

September 11, 2007 at 05:26 PM · Tom, if you're serious, it's really a shame you've been made to feel that way, maybe by this website. Striking especially since the title of the tune is "Blaze Away" rather than something like Op. 6 No. 9.

September 11, 2007 at 10:23 AM · Tom, I have never heard or seen AndrĂ© Rieu live, but I watched parts of his televison shows, as I am curious of what fellow-musicians come up with to make a living. The first thing that struck me was that the music he played always sounded a bit "empty". As I tried to understand why, I came up with the impression that it mostly stems from the simplistic setting (or poor quality ?) of his arrangements, both harmonically and from the orchestration point of view. To a lesser degree, he also seems to have balance problems with the amplification of his orchestra, since he performs in places that accept huge audiences, but have very poor acoustics. This could, of course, be intentional. He perhaps wants to draw all the attention to himself by keeping the accompanying voices minimalistic, or maybe doesn't want to overwhelm "musically uneducated" people with complicated stuff. In my modest opinion, however, his manner doesn't always serve the composer. If I were your relative, I would definitely make sure I liked the arrangement of my music before approving AndrĂ© Rieu-type performances.

September 11, 2007 at 11:42 AM · get real.

September 11, 2007 at 01:20 PM · i consider him the kenny g of violin

alot of people like it but i dont know why

September 11, 2007 at 01:24 PM · For your cousin is a ble$$ing. For you or the rest of the family.....

September 11, 2007 at 01:35 PM · I listened to some of the latest PBS concert, and found it mostly boring. Earlier ones didn't seem quite so trite and formulaic. Also,he went on and on about the culturally/racially-mixed NY audience and "his" similarly diverse group. That sort of thing sounds to me like someone working to hard to convince?? Two things left me feeling sad; that that many people who want to play (for a living) had to make that choice, and that the audience had energy and enthusiasm for what was like a breakfast of cold cereal from a box, when there's homemade bread w/jam and fresh coffee down the street.

September 11, 2007 at 01:35 PM · Tom, if you don't like this particular recording, you don't have to listen to it (insert smiley face here).

How about some perspective...a lot of people will hear your Grandfather's music that would have never had that opportunity.

If it makes you feel any better, several of my students are HUGE Rieu fans. least their TVs meander over to PBS once in awhile...

September 11, 2007 at 01:58 PM · Thanks to everyone for their thoughts on this. I listened to a snippet of it on Amazon, and it did not sound like the other versions I had heard.

September 11, 2007 at 02:23 PM · Any family royalties?

September 11, 2007 at 02:29 PM · I certainly do not discount his talent. Please don't take this the wrong way, but after watching his performance on PBS, it made me feel like I had been to Branson, MO.

My Mother in law loves going to Branson, MO. on a tour bus with alot of her blue haired friends, God love them. Sooo, what am I saying. I don't really know.

September 11, 2007 at 02:40 PM · Anne - no royalties. He was a cousin of my grandfather's, so I guess his descendants get whatever royalties he would be entitled to.

September 11, 2007 at 03:20 PM · classical musicians need to learn some RELAXATION techniques to cope with rieu. the whole body is too tight. way too much stress over something rather superficial...

slowly, breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out,,,

September 11, 2007 at 03:02 PM · the truth is that MORE people will probably hear the piece if Andre Rieu plays it, than if say Vadim Repin plays it. I am not saying this is a good thing, just a fact.

I don't like to speak ill of other people who play. For instance, I do not like Andre Rieu, or Vanessa Mae, or whoever, but I cannot fault them for making it and making a good living at it. I blame the public.

The state of what is considered CULTURE is rather pathetic. A special event is an ANDRE RIEU concert on PBS. The station A&E (which stands for ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT) shows mostly murder mysteries and real life crime, when many years ago you could watch a masterclass of Jorge Bolet, or a concert by Viktoria Mullova.

The recent passing of Pavarotti should say somethign as well. A great question, but famous for the three tenor concerts and singing with Bono rather than for his REAL opera performances.

I had wished that Andrea Bocelli had NOT sung at the funeral. Firstly, it was bad singing, and secondly it does not promote interest in the future of singing or music. There MUST have been another boy from Moderna who could have sung at the funeral? His performance might have been a nice push to a career and show us that the art of singing continues!

That said, I would be happy that Andre Rieu was playing the piece. A lot of people will hear it, and perhaps it will generate interest in that work or the work of your grandfather.

I would enjoy the message and personally look for a better messenger!

September 11, 2007 at 05:05 PM · A decent violinist leading a decent orchestra has recorded the piece for millions of folks to hear....I would be honored, I don't care who performed it.

September 11, 2007 at 07:43 PM · I agree with Bram. If my Dad had never owned the Mantovani Strauss collection, I wouldn't be on this forum today.

September 11, 2007 at 10:34 PM · hell yes. You could be doing a lot more interesting and constructive things.;)

September 14, 2007 at 04:37 PM · Yesterday, I consulted my music theory/history teacher. He said that Rieu is a serious musician, and that I should be pleased rather than appalled. He said that having Rieu record it was not the equivalent of having Lawrence Welk play it (apologies to Welk fans), which is sort of what I feared. So, all's well that ends well.

September 14, 2007 at 07:48 PM · Hmm, where to start?

I don't mind listening to something other than classical. But there are some basic standards, like play in tune, and play with good tone?

I understand that there is entertainment component in lots of music- even Beethoven wrote some of that (Septet, for example).

July 7, 2010 at 11:50 PM ·

I'm not a musician, however I love going to concerts and performances. My little critique is not meant to be harmful to anyone, it's just my opinion.

I'll try to be respectful of Andre, he seems to be a good violin player and the orchestra played beautifully. However, Andre should change his name to Yanni. From the moment the camera followed him out of his limo, to the end of the show, I could only think of " Ham with Cheese ".

I immediately thought it was me.......... how could a whole theater of clapping fans be wrong?So I went on the internet to search for others who felt as I, to reinforce my true feelings of the performance.So that's why I'm writing . My opinion, music is the centerpiece of a concert. Yes the lighting, costumes, arrangements, sets, etc.are important.

And, if one is passionate about music, that quality will shine through and everything else falls into place. Talent is something people recognize. If your putting on a show for economics, maybe Vegas might offer you a vehicle.

I hope my message doesn't offend anyone here, I write my words because I have learned to appreciate the subtle simplistic beauty of music and professional performances.



July 8, 2010 at 04:44 PM ·

Jay Jay --

I loved the "Ham with Cheese" analogy! :)  I've only watched one Andre Rieu concert (on PBS) -- a long time ago -- and have conscientiously avoided him ever since.  He DOES seem to be trying to make it "all about him".  Too much schmaltz and not enough substance! 

July 8, 2010 at 07:50 PM ·

Wow!  I can't believe this old thread has been resurrected. 

July 8, 2010 at 09:12 PM ·

Forums are strange places, you never know what will resurface! I don't think your family should feel slimed. On the other hand, I wouldn't admit that he recorded that to anyone!

July 9, 2010 at 01:36 PM ·

Lisa - as you can see from one of my previous posts, my theory/history teacher said I should be honored, so I am going with that.  However, if I talk about him, I prefer to mention that Sousa used to have his band play that and other pieces by my relative, and that my relative was one of the Tin Pan Alley composers (if you watch the PBS series on Jewish-Americans, there is a sequence on those composers where they flash up the cover of some sheet music, which is my relative's piece). 

July 9, 2010 at 01:56 PM ·

lol! See you already have enough history, why add to it? :oP

I live in France, no PBS here, dang it!

July 9, 2010 at 02:42 PM ·

I think it is wonderful that Andre Rieu should choose to record one of your relative's pieces.

Whether some others like it or not, Rieu is in the Viennese tradition of populist violin-playing concertmasters, performing accessible light music in an entertaining "showbiz" way, just as the Strausses did back in their day.

I believe  Rieu would only record pieces that he felt would bring great pleasure to his audience. That in itself is a tribute.


July 9, 2010 at 03:04 PM ·

well... since this thread has oozed back to life, how about a follow-up, Tom?

Before I realized that this was an old thread I was going to post something along the lines of while Rieu's performances are not quite my cup of tea (the stage looks like a wedding-cake factory exploded on it) Rieu certainly reaches the 'masses' and now we know he has staying power. What a great opportunity to have your relative's work get 'out there' a little more than it otherwise would have.

July 9, 2010 at 03:36 PM ·

Christina - I am not sure what I should do for a follow-up other than my most recent post.  Maybe Rieu will record more of his stuff.

July 11, 2010 at 11:39 AM ·

Regardless of whether you like or dislike Andre Rieu he has certainly brought music to the masses, be it  popular, classical or marches.   Having him play a piece of music on stage (as well as have it on DC's and DVD's)  written by a relative will certainly be heard by millions who might otherwise would have never heard it.....Be pleased about it.    I know I would be...

July 11, 2010 at 12:33 PM ·

I hadn't seen this thread in its last incarnation, but I will now admit to both 1. owning, and 2. enjoying listening to, an Andre Rieu CD.  (Unfortunately it is not the one with your relative's piece on it.)  I'll look for it.  Thanks for letting us know about him, and about the other history associated with him also!

July 11, 2010 at 01:09 PM ·

Just curious - has anyone ever heard André Rieu play?

I have often seen his shows on tv, but I never heard his violin, not a single time, only seen him move fingers and bow parallel to the tutti players. It's obvious he knows to play, you can't fake all the movements on the instrument, but I think he just doubles tutti without being amplified.

Should not a concertmaster in the vienna trad play a solo part, at least some times or in some pieces? Maybe I just switched channels too soon.

I would like to hear him playing "Schön Rosmarin" or "Liebesleid", only with piano.

July 11, 2010 at 01:27 PM ·

I think Andre Rieu is a great showman whose live, televised, and recorded performances help to keep alive the older musical traditions that many of us fear are dying. I have DVDs of many of his shows and I think his orchestra comprises a number of serious musicians who do a good job of what they do. I would think it a memory-preserving honor to have a relative's musical composition recorded by him.

Music means so many things to so many people that I think if you can fill a stadium with happy people who pay to watch Rieu and his band perform the old favorites from my child-hood violin books, the music I "believe in" will live on too.


July 11, 2010 at 02:29 PM ·

For those of you who want to know more about my relative, this article probably contains more than you want to know:

July 11, 2010 at 03:53 PM ·

In times of trouble a little light music can raise the spirits and make the heart dance.

And if a person is motivated to discover more violin stuff after listening to Andre Rieu - what's not to like

September 19, 2010 at 07:24 PM ·

I wanted to weigh in a bit on this discussion.  I think Andre Rieu is just pure fun.  Don't take it too seriously, I suppose it is a bit ethnic of me to say what I'm about to, but.  I see his concerts as one big German "beer" drinking song.  Simple, fun, made for everyone, but occasionally a few snips of something more (for those of us who know better *shirk* "musicians").  But, hey!  The popularity of his concerts is allowing a renaissance of orchestral music.  Best ride the wave.  I think the next one will be in 20 years.  *sigh*.  So, I'm going to Oktoberfest and get my stein and listen to fun music with fun people! 

Thank you Andre Rieu!

September 20, 2010 at 02:18 PM ·

Perhaps this is ultimately a matter of personal taste. Lawrence Welk was in fact very vocal about saying that classical music is boring and that most people don't care for it. The answer - as with so many societal issues - is ultimately education. After all, how may people are exposed in a positive, educational, interactive way to classical music, especially in their formative years?

And if you think about it, the Rieu-like approach actually is a doorway for many people to what most of us would consider the true classics. Just think of how much serious classical music has been integrated into our society, in the form of movie music, commercials (look at what they do to Beethoven's 5th), TV background music. Judge Judy's "theme" is a jazzed-up version of the opening of Beethoven's 5th; I daresay everyone (even if they hate classical music) knows that theme. And the famous Bach Toccata and Fugue opening has for almost a half-century been known to everyone from its use in horror films and the like.

By the way, I saw a clip on TV of a video of Rieu playing the slow movement of (I think) the Mozart 3rd Concerto. I can't say it is my favorite performance, but it was credible and musical.

But the point is, if Beethoven and Bach were alive to see how their music has become popularized and cannibalized for popular consumption, would they object? Probably, but maybe not. Who knows.

September 20, 2010 at 02:41 PM ·

i also share the view that it is a matter of context.

i remember my kid's first exposure to classical music (other than my pregnant wife listening to andre bocelli commuting to work:) is andre rieu and his band playing on pbs.  we bought some dvds and my kid would want to watch it to sleep at night. it was truly a great time for her, like party every night.   the color, ballons dropping, the presentation, the easy melodies worked for her, then. in some way, i think it actually helped to shape her personality:  easy-going, out-going, fun to be with.   had i have the insight to pick out some heifetz black and white tapes as sources of good night music education, i am pretty sure it would not have worked.  possible nightmares at young age.

so, on the same level, some adults are finding their musical youth in andre's charming presentation.   if the ultimate goal of music is to allow people to have some fun, to find some inner peace, andre did it, clearly, by a mile.   it connects to many people, young or old,  like some hardcore classical music connects to some v.comers.  to each his own.  we all go through stages where pizza and mac and cheese are the ultimate food items.   just because we have moved onto the steak and lobster of the classical repertoir does not mean others cannot stay on the diet of their own choosing or liking.  isn't it pretty dangerous to assert one group is superior to the others?

as sandy has pointed out, of those who have bought into rieu presentation, some may want to stop right there but others may want to venture deeper into the classical world.  they would venture into inquiring about which beginner model to get, which shoulder rest to get and if they can learn to play on their own:)   that is indeed a good thing.

here is the bottom line:  what bothers people, imo, is that rieu is sitting on 100m fortune that others can only dream about.   he stole the show and the money:)   i don't think andre ever claimed in public how great a musician he is (it is many others who claim in public how bad a musician he is.  well, that goes with the territory).  i saw an interview where he said the reason he started his band was because he was sick of his orchestra job.   so here we have a guy who took risks and lived his own dream.  

bashing rieu will not help the classical cause.  it will further isolate the hard core sector, from small to smaller.  and by doing that,  it helps set up more roadblocks for the next generation.  it is a bad thing.

September 20, 2010 at 03:18 PM ·

I cannot believe this old thread has been resurrected.  Thanks for all the interesting comments.

September 20, 2010 at 03:55 PM ·

 "Blaze Away" is very much in the repertoire of the barn dance band I play in.  Good enjoyable fun to play, certainly in that context.

September 20, 2010 at 08:39 PM ·

@al ku: exactly! Let's face it, broccoli does taste good with some cheese.

September 20, 2010 at 09:49 PM ·

I've seen Rieu on PBS; looks like everyone is having a good time.  I don't see a problem with this. He makes money? Excellent! There's no reason others cannot go forth and do something similar.

Don't whine; get out and bring the music to the people. Holding your nose and getting all toplofty just serves to convince folks that the classics are for snobbish jerks.

I don't have any of his CDs or DVDs.

I think I disagree with the idea that one needs to be "educated" to enjoy classical music. My 15 month old granddaughter likes it just fine. (She also likes Greek Rembetiko, and enjoys dancing to it on the kitchen table. So her tastes are open to question). IMO, exposure is the key.


September 21, 2010 at 01:28 PM ·

Trevor - how interesting.  I remember my father telling me that when he was in England during WWII, he went to a pub or someplace and saw two of my relatives pieces on the jukebox, so I realized that he had some following in that country.  I did not realize "Blaze Away" was still played by dance groups there.  I know that Sousa was a great fan of his and used to have his band play various of his pieces, but, I am continually amazed to find not only that his music is still played but that he has an international following as well.  Thanks for letting me know.

September 21, 2010 at 04:48 PM ·

Here's our Andre having fun on Irish TV being shown how to play "The Irish Washerwoman" jig by John Sheahan of the Dubliners ...

A number of Irish folk musicians (mostly amateurs, rather than professionals, I suspect) took it rather too seriously on some websites, berating Andre's apparent lack of Irish fiddling technique and treatment of the music, and entirely forgetting, or not even being aware, that he was sending himself up and that it was in fact a compliment to John Sheahan.


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