Dear hyperventilating Aussie media

Andre Rieu is not a violin ‘virtuoso’. He is a band leader who plays a decent violin. As my darling says, he’s about as good a violinist as Liberace was a pianist i.e. a canny showman who puts on a spectacular display that camouflages the occasional slip in technique.

The man does little harm, and lots of people seem to enjoy going to see his shows. He is not, however, by a very long shot, ‘the world’s greatest violinist’.

Categories: arts & entertainment, media

6 replies

  1. Oh god yes. He’s about on technical par with most kids in the country’s Youth Orchestras. He’s certainly no Anne-Sophie Mutter or Joshua Bell.
    I’ve heard people compare him to the likes of James Galway and Vanessa-Mae, but those musicians, who have released an assortment of pop-instrumental albums, do actually happen to have a damned good technique and musicianship and have no trouble performing real virtuoso repertoire.
    Most musicians (including me, heh) rather dislike Rieu, largely because it warps peoples’ sense of what we do and the effort it takes. Also it encourages people to request, when they find out you play a classical instrument, to “play that Andre Rieu song!”. Drives me batty. 🙂

  2. I disagree with you about Liberace, although I can understand how you would make the comparison based upon what he usually played publicly.
    However, I saw a documentary on him many years ago during which he played something very complicated by Rachmaninov, I think it was. No cheesy grins to camera and sequined jackets, this was serious, grim-faced, intense piano playing.
    It was bloody awesome, and I remember thinking “why the hell can’t you play like that all the time instead of yawning your way through that awful schmaltzy bullshit!”

  3. It was bloody awesome, and I remember thinking “why the hell can’t you play like that all the time instead of yawning your way through that awful schmaltzy bullshit!”

    Not a lot of money in Rachmaninov, unfortunately. That’s why so many classical soloists make those pop instrumental albums, and the London Philharmonic recorded all that Hooked on Classics stuff – it sells enough to pay for the “serious” stuff.

  4. I feel the same way every time I see an audience get on its feet after hearing people sing opera on talent shows. But they seem to be having a good time so what harm does it do.

  5. Ah Andre, a triumph of marketing and mullet. I find his Concept interesting because that’s what he’s really selling, a Concept. It’s the full deal with the frocks, sets, joining in (I sometimes watch with furrowed brow while people appear to be singing along and loving the cheesiest of all popular cheese and wonder who his audience is?), telling every population that their city is the most beeyootiful in the whole world, showcasing local talent and telling execrable sexist jokes. I’m rah-ther fascinated by him as a phenomenon and have let the kids (3 and nearly 6) watch a bit of him from time to time but the gender stuff pisses me off.
    I think from the interviews I’ve seen that he’s (possibly – insert more marketing disclaimers!) someone who tries to make aliving and doesn’t actually sell himself as a virtuoso, it’s just people’s notion of “Classical Music” as somehow highbrow and elite and “Difficult” that makes the media paint him so. Much like, as alluded to above, some of the light classics that make it onto game shows and people are all ecstatic about it when it’s really ordinary. We have so little understanding these days of music since we don’t do round the goanna singalongs any more like we once did in my part of the world, we think anyone who can sing a tune is talented.
    I feel like a grumpy old bum now but I do think our perceptions of music have shifted since the kind of stuff he performs was routinely played at home by amateurs to entertain one another. I think his orchestra have to put up with a lot between costumes and travelling so at the very least I hope they’re all enjoying themselves!

  6. My boyfriend’s snarky assessment of Andre Rieu: “Have you ever heard the story of Stone Soup?”

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