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André Rieu is nothing short of a cosmopolitan treasure. The Dutch violinist has dedicated his life to spreading the joy of the waltz to fans across the world. Since starting the Johann Strauss Orchestra in the late ‘80s, he's taken his dynamic ensemble — which numbers around 60 — everywhere from Europe and Asia to the Americas and Australia. Almost every year, the orchestra lands on Billboard's list of Top 25 tours, with Rieu recognized by the publication in 2009 as the most successful male touring artist in the world. Yearly, his group performs between 70 and 100 shows worldwide. Rieu has become famous for his energetic stage presence and thrilling repertoire. Often playing on the violin from the conductor's podium and leading his orchestra at the same time, engaging the audience in his dramatic and buoyant readings of well-known tunes, Rieu is as close to a rock star as one can get in the classical world.
Rieu was born in Maastricht, Netherlands, in 1949 to a father who was the conductor of the Maastricht Symphony Orchestra. So a life in music came naturally. He began studying the violin at age 5, eventually training at conservatories in Liège, Maastricht and Brussels. During his studies, he became obsessed with the waltz as he recognized how thoroughly the Viennese form gripped audiences when played from a stage. After a number of performance posts, including with the Limburg Symphony Orchestra, Rieu created the Johann Strauss Orchestra in 1987. The group would be dedicated primarily to performing waltzes the world over. With his orchestra, Rieu has not only toured but released live DVDs and CDs, many of which have gone platinum, and he's responsible for the beloved annual New Year's concerts in Vienna, the birthplace of Strauss and the home of the waltz.