Januari 20, 2023.In Memoriam: Mathy Engelen (65) NL/Be.Today we received the shocking message that Mathy Engelen suddenly passed away by a heart attack. Many fans who visited Maastricht will know him. Recently (July 2022) Mathy finished his Vrijthof panorama drawing from Ruud and Ineke’s hotel window. We can hardly believe it is true. He looked so lively and healthy. We are so sad. Our thoughts go out to his family. May he rest in peace.
On the Maastricht market square: Frank Steijns is buying a drawing for André’s studio.
January 21, 2023. Paper from Lanaken (Belgium). By Eddie Vandoren. Translation Ineke/John.In the evening of Friday 20 January, the well-known Lanaken artist Mathy Engelen passed away unexpectedly. He would be 66 in April and was beloved throughout the region where he was recognized and honored for his beautiful drawings, etchings and watercolors of many historical buildings, villages and city-scapes in 'his' Maasland.Mathy Engelen died completely unexpectedly on Friday evening during dinner at home from cardiac arrest. For a while he was a member of the non-profit organization “Tourism Lanaken”, something that illustrates his interest in heritage and tourism and, above all, his civic sense. With him, Lanaken loses a great, valued artist who leaves behind an incredible artistic legacy.Mathy was trained as an architect and practiced that profession for several years. But his love - let's say passion - for art, made him choose a full-time existence as an artist. “He had a preference for 'his' Maasland. He has depicted the villages of Lanaken and the surrounding area, but especially Maastricht and Liège in hundreds of artistic etchings, drawings and watercolours.... In this way he has left behind an unprecedented collection of striking buildings and town and city views. He was also good friends with the princely de Merode family, which has been linked to local history for centuries. He was a regular guest at Slot Merode, not far from the town of Düren in Germany. He has also often immortalized that castle, just like our own Pietersheim and the many other remarkable buildings in the area. The artist was still very active. He recently had a stand at Magisch Maastricht and he was a guest at the old-timer fair Interclassics, also in Maastricht. Mathy leaves behind a wife and two sons.
Ruud and Ineke: This painting of André’s castle is hanging on the wall in our house, in The Hague, Holland.
January 21, 2023.In Memoriam: Jim Morgan (86) USAAnother shock was the message that Jim Morgan, Ruth’s husband, passed away at their home in Nevada, USA.Ruth and Jim (Ruth primarily) have been André fans from the very beginning (1997!) and traveled every year to Maastricht to attend the Vrijthof concerts.We are so sad. Ruth must be heartbroken. Our condolences, thoughts, love and prayers go out to Ruth, their son and daughter. We wish them much strength in bearing their loss.
We think that Ruth and Jim were the fans who had the earliest personal contact with André, as proven by photos. In 1996 André Rieu was for the first time on American TV at PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) with “From Holland with Love”. A year later PBS showed a video clip of André playing the Second Waltz in Amsterdam (1994 soccer stadium) and ice skating in the village. That was to promote the coming concert tour to the USA in 1997. During André’s performance in Buffalo, NY, Ruth worked as a volunteer for PBS, taking pledges. She also pleaded to show more André concerts on TV and both Ruth and Jim met André in person in the PBS studios in 1997.
After 2002, more fans learned to know each other via Sonja’s translations website in the USA, so we also got to know Ruth and Jim. Since the first Vrijthof concerts in 2005, Jim and Ruth traveled each year to Maastricht, where they stayed during the entire concert series. Ruth had tickets for the concerts and Jim preferred to invite guests in their balcony room of the Hotel DuCasque. Many fans have watched the concerts from that balcony room and enjoyed Jim’s hospitality. Friends for more than 20 years, we’ve made many trips together, in Holland and in the USA. Jim studied Dutch, read Dutch newspapers, and ate Dutch food.
He is the only American we know, who loved to eat herring with onions, “kibbeling” (fried fish chunks) and the café snack “broodje bal”(meatball sandwich). He always helped us fix the banners on the hotel facade and the flags on the fan dinner ships. Ruth was responsible for making the hundreds of buttons being given away to the fans. Jim had not been doing too well the last few years and recently suffered from a stroke. We’ll miss him terribly.
April 16, 2023.In Memoriam:
Julie Spengler (97), USA
With sadness we received Suzie’s message that her mother Julie Spengler has passed away peacefully on April 16, 2023, at the age of 97.The photo with Lara Meuleman and Arthur Cordewener (from the Johann Strauss Orchestra) was taken in Cincinnetti in 2005.
On the picture: Julie and her two daughters Ingrid and Suzie, and Dave Henise.
In 2007 Ruud and Ineke visited Dave and Suzie Henise at their home in California. Julie was there too.Julie is of German descent, which is why she knew of André so early! Suzie and Dave live on Lake Almanor, Northern California. We were immediately included in their doings: we went to see Suzie's mother Julie, who normally lives near San Francisco, but now has been living close to Suzie for a while, in her own “cabin” in the woods, in order to see and meet us! In her own home she regularly hosted André Rieu evenings for neighbors and friends, with snacks and drinks. Then they watched concert DVDs. She was the biggest fan of the entire family and had been following André from the very beginning. She showed us her scrapbooks, from the beginning of André’s career, which she had brought along especially for us. We spent a wonderful time together. Our thoughts go out to Suzie and Ingrid. (David passed away in 2022).
July 31, 2023. Facebook Julia and Kathy (NZ), still in Maastricht after the concert series:“We are sitting here in Maastricht in tears, having just heard the heartbreaking news that our beloved friend Lidia died yesterday. We were with her at her house on Saturday and she was full of positivity about the future and delighted with the rubber duck that we took for her. This is very hard to take in right now and our thoughts and love are with Lidia’s sister who has been looking after her, and her son who she loved beyond measure.Lidia loved the concert that she attended only 3 weeks ago with the Ambulance Service, and although she was not well, we know that she was in a happy state of mind right to the end”.
Sunday July 30, 2023.In MemoriamLidia Surówka (58), PL.From the Polish fangroup on Facebook, by Maria Tomaszewska, moderator:“With great regret and despair in our heart, we inform you that on July 30th 2023 passed away the beloved and wonderful Lidia Surówka. She loved life, people and music. She founded and managed this great Polish fan group. She will be in our hearts forever”.Lidia lived in Maastricht where she attended many concerts and joined the fan dinners and fan picnics. In 2018 part of the Polish fangroup was with her in Maastricht (picture below).
Picture left: The Polish orchestra members:Gosia Loboda, Maja Jasinska, Agnes Fizzano-Walter.Lidia suffered from a serious muscle disease and we are so happy that she got the chance to meet André in person at one of the concerts, via the Wish Ambulance.
Edwina Morgan (Australia) on Facebook: “We have known each other for quite a few years and I am so pleased we spent time with her last year. She wasn’t in good health due to a crippling disease. At this years concerts it was her wish to meet André and he gave her that wish”.
In Memory of Lidia Surówka, from The Harmony Parlor Fangroup on Facebook,by Chris Fowler.“Lidia joined the Harmony Parlor in July 2012 and soon made many friends. She was then living in Katowice in Poland, her home country. From there, she started the first Polish FB fan group for André and the JSO, also in 2012. She put her heart into that group, which she continued to do after her move to Maastricht and was still posting on that group just over a week ago. She was much loved and respected by the members, as she was by the Polish members of the Johann Strauss Orchestra, both past and present. She also enjoyed the friendship of many of the other members of the JSO and choir. She worked hard to promote André and the JSO for the Polish Fans.As her friends across the world will know, she was a translator and would sometimes send some of us messages to ask if we would check out her translations, to see if they read well in English. Many will remember that on doing her translations or her work on her Polish fan group, she would be accompanied by Fiona, her beloved cat. She loved nature and animals, particularly Hedgehogs. She also loved decorated stones, as can be seen on many posts on her FB page. I remember how excited she was to move to Maastricht and be at the Centre of the Universe, but also to return home to Poland to André’s concerts. She did enjoy being in Maastricht, but sadly, in the end, she was struck down with that terrible illness.There will be many of her friends here on the Harmony Parlor, that have their own memories of their friendship with Lidia. I remember chatting to Lidia on Messenger about Poland and the connection the city where I live has with the Polish people; her love of hedgehogs; her son; and of course, of André and the JSO (particularly the beautiful Polish girls of the JSO!).She would thank me for translating my comments (well Google did) into Polish on the Polish group. When I came to Maastricht this year, I said I must go and see Lidia in person. When she knew I was there, she wanted to see me. Little did I know that the first time we would meet in person, would sadly be the last.Lidia loved her friends, she loved André and the JSO, but most of all, she loved her son and her sister Barbara, who was with her until the end.She will be missed” ... Chris Fowler.On Aug. 9th Lidia’s ashes were scattered in the river Maas (Meuse).
July 18, 2023In Memoriam:Doris Dimech, (70) Malta.Stephen on FB Messenger, Aug. 7th 2023:“Hello Ineke! Unfortunately I'm afraid I got some sad news. My dear wife Doris passed away peacefully three weeks ago tomorrow (on July 18th). She lost her battle with cancer. I thought I had to let you know. I miss her so much. Unfortunately she was too weak to go to the Malta concert and I sold the tickets. All those times we came to Maastricht for André and she didn't manage to see him here in Malta”.
Dear Stephen, we are so sorry. Ruud and I are sending you and your two sons our condolences. We fully understand that you miss her, after having been married for 45 years. You were in Maastricht for 5 years in a row: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. You came to the fan picnics and you told us that apart from the concerts, you fell in love with the town of Maastricht. “It's addictive, we always wanted to go back again, started to make friends, especially restaurants and coffee bars. They even started to get used to us and that made us feel more welcomed”. We wish you much strength to bear the loss and we hope to meet you in Malta, when we are there for the concerts in September 2023.
August 20, 2023In Memoriam:Francine Chavanon (78), France.
Liliane Ninane and Francine, 2022.
To our sadness, we received the message that Francine Chavanon has passed away on August 20, 2023, in the hospital of Montpellier. Francine lived in Sigean, the area of Languedoc-Roussillon in the South of France. We are so sorry!! Francine was a great André fan and as far as we know, she attended the Maastricht concerts each year since 2015.Francine had been friends with Liliane Ninane from the French speaking part of Belgium and for 6 years in a row, they met half-way and traveled together to Maastricht.In 2023, Liliane had invited her to her house in Namur, Belgium, before leaving for Maastricht, but Francine was not in good health. Her son did not want her to travel all the way to Maastricht, so she stayed at home in France. Liliane lost a good friend. Our condolences go out to the family and we wish them much strength to bear the loss.
August 23, 2023 In Memoriam:Kavan Hunt (72), UK. It was a great shock to read the message on Facebook that Lorelei Hunt lost her beloved husband Kavan, on August 23, 2023. They traveled to Maastricht in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. They loved André’s music and attended the concerts and most of the fan meetings. We are sending Lorelei much love and positive energy from Holland, to let her know that she is in our thoughts. Our sincere condolences go out to her and the family. May Kavan rest in peace.