The king of classical music is inviting fans to waltz along and see him when he brings his unique brand of entertainment to the Sheffield stage.
Legendary violinist André Rieu – renowned for his rock-star demeanour – has sold more than 40 million records, received more than 400 Platinum awards and, in terms of tickets sales, is the biggest solo male touring artist in the world.
And the maestro and his Johann Strauss Orchestra will perform waltzes from his latest album, Roman Holiday, alongside traditional fan favourites when he performs at Sheffield Arena on Monday, December 21.
The 66-year-old Dutchman – who is fluent in English, German, French and Italian, as well as his native Dutch – is proud to have made classical music a mainstream success.
“I think it is because the audience feels that my orchestra and I play with our hearts,” he says. “And it’s the choice of repertoire.
“I know that if a piece touches me, it will touch your hearts, too. I think that’s one of the secrets to my success.
“I try to bring happiness and emotions to the people.
“And I communicate with my the audience. I talk to them I involve them, I love to make them dance and sing.
“We enter our concert halls through the audience – we are close to them not distant.
“Classical music is seen as elitist today, but it should not be.
“At the time of Mozart everyone went to the theatre. The people whistled his melodies in the street.”
Despite his success, and the accompanying financial security it has brought him, he has no plans to hang up his bow just yet.
“Of course, it has been a lot of hard work, and I really think I have a lot of passion, love and courage – because everyone would tell you that it is mad to travel the whole world with a private orchestra, to have 100 people on payroll and earn your life with making music,” he says.
“I’m very lucky, but I could not do it without my family.
“I love to give concerts, to travel around the world with my second family, the Johann Strauss Orchestra. We really have a lot of fun on stage.
“All those rock bands like AC/DC, the Rolling Stones, have much more money than I do and they are older, but they don’t stop.
“They need to be on stage and make music. They love their audience.
“It’s the same with other artists, like authors and painters – they work as long as they can, although I say I do not work, I’m having fun.”
Music has been a lifelong passion of André’s, having been almost born into it, although his future plans may be somewhat unrealistic.
“I started playing the violin at the age of five,” he says. “My father was a symphonic conductor. All of my brothers and sisters are musicians, so I always wanted to become a violinist.”
“I plan to live until I’m 120 years old and I’d love to play on the moon.”
For now, though, André is concentrating on his show in Sheffield.
“It will be an evening full of romance, music, laughter, dancing and celebrating the most beautiful time of the year,” he says.
“We will play romantic waltzes, melodies from films, musicals, operas and of course some wonderful beloved Christmas songs.
“We’ll all celebrate together, orchestra, chorus, many international soloists – and I plan to be there as well,” he adds, laughing.
André Rieu plays Sheffield Arena next Monday, December 21.
For tickets, priced from £44, call 0114 256 5656, or visit the arena’s website at www.sheffieldarena.co.uk