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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Wish You Rieu!

I was spending an evening in front of the television and ended up watching André Rieu's jubilee concert at the central 'Vrijthof' square in Maastricht. A spectacle, as usual - a child prodigy, a soprano singing higher than high, three male singers singing louder than loud, a Ukrainian-Russian ensemble piece in order to propagate peace, a laser show, animations on enormous screens behind the stage, confetti showers, two past and one present town mayor, Rieu dancing with a hundred years old nun  - all the ingredients were there to make the jubilee a jubilee as we televise jubilees nowadays.

I wrote about Rieu earlier in this blog (for example here and here), trying to make clear that I admire the man although what he does is not necessarily my taste. While sitting in front of the telly I again enjoyed watching the show. Of course also because I studied in Maastricht, so looking at the audience and hearing Rieu speak the local dialect took me back to the years when I was around twenty years old and tried to figure out how to live an independent life at the other end of the country amidst total strangers. Recollections of all kinds, happy ones and less happy ones, as things go, if only because at least one class mate and one good friend have past away in the meantime. Would they have liked the Rieu concert? I'll never know, I guess - but you never know.


The reason I am writing this blog at Oudejaarsdag is because I want to wish you all the very best for the new year. And I thought it might be fitting to wish you André Rieu. Not because I think you should like it - there is no 'should' in liking, as I wrote earlier - but because I was watching the Rieu audience and saw that they had a fantastic time: they were moved to tears, they danced with their beloved and with total strangers, they sang along, they became ecstatic, for some it was complete catharsis I guess.

I am happy the days of Marxist analysis of culture are over so that I now can simply state that I like it when people have fun - and so much more - together through music without having to state that their fun in reality is a state of ignorance forced on them by late capitalism. And I am equally happy that the era is ending where 'fun' is suspect because it is not edifying and serious and high-class and meaningful and where music is either 'good' or 'nice', but never both at the same time. I am happy the times are changing (yes, yes, Dylan again) so that I can wish you your own personal Rieu (I have to think of Johnny Cash, of course - play it loud!) - next to your own personal Beethoven, and - hard to imagine for many but still - your own personal Peter Maffay.

Go for it!

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