December 28, 2017.Two record companies arranged a meeting in André’s castle in Maastricht, between two top salesmen of Christmas albums, who had never met before:André Rieu and the Belgian singer Frank Michael.Timeless Christmas stars André Rieu and Frank Michael live only 40 kilometers from each other, but have never met before.At the end of November we are in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and we have achieved a feat with their respective record companies “Universal” and “Warner”. The meeting of these two inevitable record salesmen at Christmas. Dutchman André Rieu (68), world “King of the Waltz”, who has just released his new album ”Amore” and Belgian Frank Michael, the French language “Prince of Lovers” (70) who lives 40 kilometers from André, in Liège, Belgium. Despite their success they both stayed with their families in the cities where they grew up.
Translation from French to English, by Chris Plewa, Ohio, USA.Chris was born in France in the city of Orléans. Siggy was born in a region near the Baltic Sea which was back then Germany but is Poland now. He immigrated at the age of 19 to the USA and was sent to France to serve the US army. In Orléans they met, fell in love, married in the USA in 1967, stayed to live there and this year they celebrated their 50th anniversary. Wow, what a story! Congratulations Chris and Siggy!
Surprisingly it’s their first meeting. Surprisingly, because, in addition to their geographical and generational proximity, they have many simularities. The latest one is Waltz no. 2 by Dimitry Shostakovich. André Rieu has played the Second Waltz on the violin for over 10 years and even popularized it throughout the world. Frank Michael sings it on his new album “La Saint-Amour”.Son of a conductor and son of a miner.They work very hard: for Frank Michael: two albums, or even three a year and for André Rieu two DVDs and one album. André explains: “My wife Marjorie and my youngest son Pierre, who manages the business, tell me that we must satisfy the fans. They are right. I have 110 permanent employees in my employ, that costs a lot of money. I have to work, but I like that. If I stay healthy, I’ll play until I’m 100”.“I too work with my family,” says Frank Michael. “At first I had a producer, who made me go where I did not want to go. Now I am free”.On the other hand, their paths are very different. André Rieu, son of a conductor, grew up in a bourgeois and classical environment and began playing the violin at the age of five at the conservatory. Frank Michael, son of an Itlian miner, started at the age of 8 with the accordion. “To please my father”, he says. “But I quickly abandoned that for the piano and guitar, with which I always compose”.First job?“I was a model in Brussels”, laughs André Rieu. “Until they asked me to pose for pictures in the nude”.Frank: “Before I started playing music, around the age of 20, I worked in a factory and in a garage as a mecanic. That’s why I like cars”.André Rieu takes us into the cloister, adjoining the castle, for photos. They are asked to pose around the statue of a naked woman. “It’s perfect for love” laughs the owner. “In addition: it is a statue by a French sculptor, purchased by my wife”. Frank Michael does not want to stand too close to the statue. André teases him: “Be more in love, Frank!”.Frank is fascinated by his host’s castle, cloister and orangery. André tells that it is still under construction because the stone is crumbling. That is my luxury, together with my Stradivarius violin.For me it is cars, Frank confesses. He is driving his two Ferraris mostly on the track.André has to end the meeting, because he has to attend his granddaughter’s first dance recital.He thanks Frank Michael for his visit and slips him a “Can you take me in your Ferrari?”
Thanks for the translation, Chris!The photo is from 2006, the Vienna concert: Siggy and Chris Plewa.