Critics have called André Rieu sentimental, even saccharine, a musician who has watered down great music until it is palatable for the masses. He has cried all the way to the bank.
Rieu's tours grossed $40.2 million in 2016, coming in 23rd on Billboard's highest-grossing list, just behind the Dave Matthews Band. His most recent album, Falling in Love, climbed to No. 7 on the charts two weeks after its release a year ago.
His Johann Strauss Orchestra has grown from a dozen members to more than 60 today. He liked the egalitarian crowds he drew, and began catering to them even more. A promising sign came at a 1994 performance at an Amsterdam soccer stadium before 60,000 fans.
"I played the Shostakovich Waltz No. 2," Rieu recalled in an interview, "and the whole stadium was loving this piece and singing. That was sort of a breakthrough in my career. Nobody would have thought that a soccer audience would sing Shostakovich."
Rieu and his orchestra perform at Amalie Arena at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Click here for details.
For more of Andrew Meacham's interview with Andre Rieu, click here.