Andre Leon Marie Nicolas Rieu (born 1 October 1949) is a Dutch violinist, conductor, and composer best known for creating the waltz-playing Johann Strauss Orchestra.
Andre Rieu was born into a Christian musical family, on 1 October 1949 in Maastricht in the Netherlands. The name Rieu is of French Huguenot origin. He began studying violin at the age of five. His father was conductor of the Maastricht Symphony Orchestra. From a very young age he developed a fascination with orchestra. He studied violin at the Conservatoire Royal in Liege and at the Conservatorium Maastricht, (1968-1973). His teachers included Jo Juda and Herman Krebbers. From 1974 to 1977, he attended the Music Academy in Brussels, studying with Andre Gertler, getting his degree “Premier Prix” from the Brussels Royal Conservatory.
At University he performed the Gold And Silver Waltz by Franz Lehár. Encouraged by the audience reaction he decided to pursue the waltz form. Rieu formed the Maastricht Salon Orchestra and performed as a violinist with the Limburg Symphony Orchestra. In 1987, he created the Johann Strauss Orchestra and his own production company. The Orchestra began with 12 members and the first concert was given on 1 January 1988. It now performs with between 80 and 150 musicians. At the time the Orchestra first toured Europe, there emerged a renewed interest in waltz music. The revival began in the Netherlands and was ignited by their recording of the Second Waltz from Shostakovich’s Jazz Suites. As a result, Rieu became known as the waltz King.
Rieu and his orchestra have performed throughout Europe, in North America, and Japan. Winning a number of awards including two World Music Awards, their recordings have gone gold and platinum in many countries, including 8-times Platinum in the Netherlands. He records both DVD and CD repertoire at his own recording studios in Maastricht in a wide range of classical music as well as popular and folk music plus music from well-known soundtracks and musical theatre. His lively orchestral presentations, in tandem with incessant marketing, have attracted worldwide audiences to this subgenre of classical music.