Sat December 3, 2011, 06:00
Andre Rieu: "Marjorie is my quiet strength"
by Wilma Nanninga
AMSTERDAM - Andre Rieu (62) would be nothing without the support of his sparkling wife Marjorie. As visible as Marjorie is for him and their sons Pierre and Marc, she appears invisible to the outside world. Therefore André composed a tribute to her.
For the first time they both talked about their special love story. It was a memorable interview. Marjorie, a cheery Limburger with her head covered with curls, surprised us when she cheerfully entered the room. She is always out of the limelight and did not want to be photographed. She gave me a picture of them both from the past: "I love the fact that I can just happily move freely about, rather than being Mrs. Rieu. I even travel under my maiden name. I would like to remain a mystery."
André looks at her lovingly: "Marjorie has made sure that I became the king of waltz. She has freed me from Beethoven. And now it's nice for me to know that she is in the office, or in my studio. Her sobriety and yet playful, flexible mind is my compass in the sometimes turbulent times of the business. She protects me from mistakes, differentiates, considers alternatives and was my pillar of strength when I was down for weeks with an inflamed labyrinth. We have already braved many a storm together."
In a Christmas movie that is now being filmed in the surroundings of the castle, an actor who plays the role of André, is sadly walking down a snowy alley. He walks into the light and is embraced by a young woman. "I studied at the Conservatory in Brussels. I lived in a gloomy room on the third floor. I did not know where my life was going and had very much the feeling that I was at a dead end. I studied the violin with no joy, very prim and proper, like most classical music. At a school, where competition and jealousy reigned and where nobody granted you anything. No one cared. I was about to give up. Despite the desire of my father, who was a concertmaster, I wanted to choose something different. And then suddenly Marjorie brought hope to my existence. She made me happy, and I discovered cheerful light music from Berlin, where her Jewish parents were raised. Actually, I had an aimless life from my birth up to the day I met Marjorie. Then all erupted."
"I knew Marjorie from my sister Theresa’s class in high school”, André says with a smile. “But when she came to visit me in Brussels 37 years ago, it really happened. Since then she has never left. And since that day I know that we just follow our destiny. Regardless of what happens. Marjorie gives me everlasting courage and energy even when we experienced financial difficulty. Like last year when we traveled the entire world with those huge castle decors. Which really was a foolish thing to do. Everything was in jeopardy, I even wanted to sell my Stradivarius. But Marjorie never gave up and believed that things would get better. And she was right.”
St. Nicholas Celebration: Marjorie added, "I always had that cute guy André Rieu on my mind. We had met before at his sister Theresa. But he was 13 then and I 15. I remember a Sinterklaas (St.Nicholas) celebration at Theresa’s, which was very enjoyable. I was an only child and they were six. André and I only had a little chat. But from then on he was constantly on my mind." Smilingly she says: "I was 27, teaching German, when I had to organize a concert for my school and I thought of Theresa as a harpist. André and I met once again. From that moment on and for the next six weeks we were writing each other long letters. André is very romantic. The flaming romance intensified when I visited him. I arrived on Sunday morning with the intention of leaving again that Sunday evening. But I stayed over and spent the night, not showing up at work the next day, I was really hooked although I am a very good girl.” What did you find most touching in André, I ask Marjorie. "He was kind to a sixteen year old fellow student from the Conservatory who came to him in a panic with a swollen hand. I think that was it. I just melted. And to be more specific, a week later I told a girlfriend that I thought that what André and I had would be short lived but intense. It was so emotional. I did not think that our relationship would last. And now, look we are still together after nearly 40 years, still beautiful!”
André: "I will never forget that a few months later I was sitting on the sofa with her father. I asked him permission to marry her. And him asking the question: "So, André, can you provide for her?" I replied honestly: "Well actually it is Marjorie who is providing for me, I am still studying." Marjorie interrupts: "My father roared with laughter. My parents really liked you. And over the years, you have more than made up for it. I did less and less teaching. Standing in front of a classroom was not my first love. I did translation work when you started with the salon orchestra. And slowly, I joined the business. I love music and help with the compositions of the albums. We think and make choices together.” André reaches for her hand: "As a child I dreamed that I would find a woman with whom I could do everything together.You made sure that I discovered the "Bummel Petrus" polka. When we were searching for music which the salon orchestra could play back then, we made an appeal for all the Limburgers to look for old music in their attics, but only melodies which Marjorie already knew emerged. Toselli’s Serenade, beautiful light music which was my first "gold" record.”
Marjorie: "My Jewish father fled Germany. He lived in Berlin during the 20’s. And the creaking 78 rpm records from that period were the music of my youth. André is a violinist who plays the happy party songs but with the skill of a classical concert violinist. That, I think is André's secret." Marjorie is always home or in the office when the violin virtuoso is touring all over the world. "I do not like to fly" she says laughing. "And on top of that, André does not want a wife trudging two meters behind him carrying his violin case." He adds: "That’s how all the violinists came to visit my father back then. A dreadful sight. In our marriage I am spending a small fortune on telephone calls. Because we are always in contact with each other."
Marjorie: "When André is gone for two weeks, I stay in Maastricht. If he is gone on tour for three weeks, like to Australia, then I’ll go for a week’s language course. French, Italian ... I love languages. But then I travel by train.” André: "Marjorie is also the business talent in our family. Her father was a businessman and since her childhood Marjorie helped out her father by organizing. She had a library in her street and gave ballet lessons to the children in her neighborhood. In the beginning she even organized a scholarship for me. I had a whole stack of papers lying around and really thought it was too much of a hassle. So I’ll eat a sandwich less, I thought. Luckily Marjorie took control." The Christmas special they are making, is suitably called "Home for Christmas." André: "Universal wanted to use it for the American market for next year’s Christmas. But in the Nederlands and Germany the Christmas special will be broadcast this December. Marjorie and I have thought out the entire process. Therefore it has become a very personal story." Marjorie: "It was no small task to put a two-hour script together about something. Moreover, a waltz lasts seven minutes. But then there are also many Christmas songs in it which can last up to three minutes. So we came up with our own lives and recorded it entirely here at home, in the city and the church next door to us. You can see our children and grandchildren. But not me, as it was originally agreed upon." André: "We have spared no expenses. Everything here was covered with real snow".
The couple will spend Christmas Eve with their children and grandchildren. Painter Marc will spend Christmas with his wife and their children, and Pierre, who is the vice-president of the company, with his wife and the twins. Marjorie nods as if she already knows what André is going to say: "With the arrival of the grandchildren, we have discovered a new form of love. And I always tell them very proudly, "Grandpa loves Grandma very much!!"
Thank you Josephine for the article and Deirdré and Eve for the translation.