Hi Australia, I would like to share with you a very special Q&A about my new album Love In Venice! I will be posting these regularly over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!
Mr Rieu, What would you do if you had one night in Venice? What would I do… I think everything that’s romantic. Ride a gondola, sit at the Piazza San Marco, just wander around, stroll across the many bridges, admire the palazzi and go with the flow. And hope that I run into Commisario Brunetti somewhere and can drink a glass of wine with him!
What is special about the song “Love In Venice”? I usually play a Stradivarius, but I was looking for a violin with a different sound for “Love In Venice”. It should be softer, more loving. I tried a lot of violins and found a beautiful, very gentle one that suited the piece perfectly.
What role does composing play in your life? Mozart composed with his left hand and simultaneously played billiards, drank and made love with the right. That’s not how it works for me. It’s not easy to find time for it because I’m often on stage and we constantly travel. I compose together with my first violinist Frank Steijns, who is also an excellent pianist. The theme of “Bella Tarantella”, for example, occurred to me while I was sitting with Frank in a Taxi in Santiago, Chile. It was suddenly there. It was a wonderful moment!
Could you ever imagine playing a different instrument, not the violin? My father was a conductor and gave me my first violin at age five. Right away, I felt that this instrument was like a voice. You can feel its vibration as you play. A piano is a fantastic instrument, but there’s no direct contact with the body. In this respect, the violin is unique in the world; it’s very close to you, and that is what I like about.
There’s no love without heartbreak. Can heartache also be found in your music? I think that love and sadness belong together, just like sadness and joy. I don’t think that love could exist without heartache. They belong together. When I love a person, I love them 100 percent. But heartache can also be found in my music.
Where does this love of Italy come from, that so many Northern Europeans have? It has to do with the sun and love. Marjorie and I both love the country and are big fans of the Italian way of life. Marjorie speaks perfect Italian and we go there privately once a year for a week.
Azzurro, Volare, That’s Amore, O sole mio… many of the songs on the new album are about longing… Exactly, and about romanticism. The song “La Gondola”, for example, is very melancholic. In every Johann Strauss waltz, you can find joy, love and sadness, like in the Lagoon Waltz, for example. The same goes for literature. There’s a reason that one of the most famous books by Thomas Mann is called “Death in Venice”. Venice is actually an epitome of beauty and romance, but also of transience. It’s actually quite unlike the other cities in Italy.