January 10th 2019.In Memoriam: Tony Wilkinson, UK (70).Today we were informed by Jenny Wilkinson that her beloved husband Tony has passed away. We are very sad and our thoughts and prayers are with Jenny and their family. We have known Jenny and Tony (from the Isle of Wight in the UK) as long term André fans.
Tony’s passing must have happened unexpectedly, since he posted a big colored block on Facebook on January 7, with the words: “I want to go back to the 31st of December 2018. People wish you a happy and healthy New Year. But since the start of 2019 I have had a tooth ache. That’s gone. But now I have a back ache. Roll on February 2019!” This is incredible….. We are so sorry he left us so soon. We wish Jenny much strength in coping with this terrible and sudden loss of her beloved husband.
Jenny wrote us: “Tony suffered with Parkinson’s. Only just with walking problems. Yesterday we went to our usual shops, stopped for coffee during our time there. He felt dreadfully poorly. His pulse was very low and blood pressure low. We were at the hospital about 3 hrs. And they couldn’t revive him. There was only us 2 and a little dog. I have already decided on Highland Cathederal. Thank you for your kind words. Would love to see a memorial on your lovely site”.
Memories by Richard Oswick: ”In 2017 we were with Gary and his family on a break in the Isle of Wight. I remembered that Jenny and Tony lived on the Island and asked Gary if he was up to surprising them, which of course he was. So I sent a message to Jenny asking if they fancied a coffee and chat with Linda and me. We agreed to meet at a supermarket which had a cafe. We met them first whilst Gary stayed out of sight. The look on Tony and Jenny’s faces when he appeared, was classic. It was lovely to have a chat and photos, Tony said he knew another fan who was ill in Australia and Gary agreed to talk to him on the telephone without hesitation. We are so glad we made the effort to meet up with the Wilkinsons and give us all a happy memory”.
Limburg newspaper: Febr.12, 2019.Today an obituary appeared in the Limburg newspaper announcing that André’s mother has passed away on Febr. 8, 2019, at the age of 98. Ineke: We have never heard or learned much about this woman who raised six very talented and musical children. The only photo we could find, dates back to 1963, when the family spent a wonderful summer holiday in the Dordogne in France. From left to right: Robert, Jean-Philippe, Cilia, mother Alice, Gaby, André and Teresia.
In Memoriam: Alice C. M. Rieu - Kleijntjens, NL (98)Our heartfelt condolences go out to the entire Rieu family. We wish them strength in bearing this loss.The first sentence on the obituary (in French) says: ”I do not die, I enter life”.
To our immense sadness, we have to announce that our dear friend Joke Breedijk has passed away on February 18, 2019. We first met Joke in 2015, after we had heard of a senior André Rieu mime orchestra, in our hometown The Hague, in the Netherlands, and even in a neighboring district from where we live! To see what it was like, we attended a performance in a care center for senior citizens. We were flabbergasted! The idea to imitate André Rieu and his Johann Strauss orchestra in a funny way, was conceived at a garden party of the Muttersborgh senior complex in 2014, and presented as a comical act. Joke was the enthusiastic, artistic, musical leader and the driving force. Her neighbors from the senior complex loved André Rieu and so did Joke. Of course they asked the Maestro's permission, which they received. That is how the mime orchestra "Gouwe Ouwen op Volle Toeren" (Golden Oldies at full Speed) came into being and Joke played the role of André, created the costumes, instruments, organized the agenda, door-to-door transport, took care of the laundry, and basically did everything else! Performances took place in care centers throughout The Hague and surroundings and the group became a great success. They even were on TV and in the newspapers.In April 2018, fate struck. Joke was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer with a life prospect of 6 months. It was Joke's dearest wish that the orchestra would continue. Due to publicity in the media, nine volunteers came to the rescue to take over several tasks for the future. Joke held on to the reigns as tightly as possible for as long as she could. In between the chemo treatments she guided the new people, still made costumes and continued to conducted the orchestra herself until December 2018. In the meantime a notary changed the orchestra into a foundation served by a board. The municipality of The Hague made a subsidy available, which proves that the value of this kind of entertainment for the elderly is recognized by the Dutch authorities.In February 2019 Joke organized a party to celebrate the foundation with snacks and drinks, to toast the future of the orchestra and to see all her friends. She felt she was going to lose the battle.Joke has always been open minded about her illness. Lately she told me that she would definitely watch the July Maastricht concerts from Heaven. On February 18, 2019 she passed away. She will be in our hearts forever. May she rest in peace. Nellie Seesink, one of the orchestra members, will take over her role as André Rieu in the future.If you like to read more about this special entertainment group, click HERE.Photo credits: Tineke Arbacht. Photos taken on February 5th, 2018, two weeks before she passed away.
In Memoriam: Joke Breedijk (74), NL.
On April 10th 2019, the Dutch tabbloid magazine “Privé” published an article about the passing of André’s mother and posted the picture to the right. We post part of the article here.“It is known that the Rieu family has some issues and that André did not have much contact with his sibblings and mother. According to a family member, Alice Rieu was proud of her 6 children, 11 grand-children and 8 great-grandchildren. Her life was not easy, her husband was often gone, she had to raise the children by herself and that’s why she was often very strict”. Her youngest son Jean-Philippe agrees:
“Every human being has some history. My mother was left alone when she was 11 years old. Her parents divorced and she was raised by an uncle. Then you carry baggage for the rest of your life. I have no idea why she had to go to her uncle and could not be raised by her father or mother. Often I tried to talk with her about it but she would clam up. She had built a wall around her. It was a deep injury, a big trauma, something like a war trauma. Later on contact with her mother was renewed. She lived in our house. I was my grandmother's favorite grandson. She lived to be 102. My parents were often in Germany and then I took care of my grandmother who suffered from breast cancer. I gave her injections every day. She survived the breast cancer, was totally cured”. Jean-Philippe told us that his parents learned to know each other during the war. “They were married in September and in October she was already pregnant. There was always an unnatural balance between my parents. My father literally and figuratively played the first violin and stood gleaming in the attention while my mother remained in his shadow. The time in which they lived played a different role, then the relationship between a man and a woman was almost never balanced. My wife and I do everything together, and we feel good doing that. In their time it was different, actually my mother was my father’s servant. A few years after my father’s passing, at the age of 86, she decided to leave her beloved big white house in Maastricht, and moved to our neighborhood (Eijsden). She still drove her car to the South of France all by herself. To our surprise she chose to live in a renovated cow shed. Indeed it was big, with 3 floors. She wanted to have stairs to keep in shape. Since she lived there she flourished, was super happy. Mentally she was fine. Physically she suffered from old age ailments and shingles. She died in her sleep and I was with her.”Now that both parents have passed away, André may be able to close the period of his difficult youth. That will bring peace to the turbulent life of the Waltz King, whose abstinence brought him to the top of the world.
June 6, 2019. Message on Facebook by Margaret Sansom, leading lady of the North South Wales André Rieu friendship group in Australia.In Memoriam: Norm Bartlett, (85) Australia.“Today I received the sad news that our dear friend Norm Bartlett passed away on Wednesday June 5th 2019.My last memory of Norm was at the wonderful concert at the Sydney Town Hall last November 2018. He and Shirley were the first up to dance the Blue Danube. I am so happy that they were able to attend such a special Christmas concert.Norm and Shirley have been members of our North South Wales André Rieu Friendship Group since 2008. I first met Norm and Shirley when André came for a promotional visit to Warringah Mall in Sydney in September 2007.
Norm was a true gentleman. He is at peace now. He will be missed by all of us I am sure. Our thoughts are with his beloved Shirley and the family”.
December 2nd 2019.In Memoriam: Sister Leona Beurts (105) NL.From André’s Facebook:“Deeply saddened to hear of Sister Leona’s passing. She was 105 years old and my oldest and biggest fan in Maastricht. I will always remember our last waltz on the Vrijthof in July 2019!”To honor Sister Leona we’ll link to a few interviews on this website:Interview with the twin sisters in 2008, click HERE.Sister Leona 100 years old: March 2014, click HERE.Sister Leona 105 years old: March 2019, click HERE.Sister Leona had a long and blessed life.May she rest in peace.
Today we received this tribute from Bebe Maggiori.Sr. Leona was my dearest friend for 5 years. I met her by strange circumstances as I believe sent by God. My path was crossed right in front of the convent one afternoon by an aptly named Sister called Angelica. She is an angel. I didn't even know I was standing in front of the convent. We started chatting and then I asked her about Sr Leona and she told that Sr Leona would be very happy to see me. From then on over the past 5 years I visited Sr Leona and the other 2 Sisters every year several times. Sr Leona became one of my most personal and loving friends. She even had a photo of us in her bedroom. I saw it in the last video when she turned 105.
She really loved me and so did I. She was always so happy to spend time with me.Over the years and over several cups of tea and coffee and cakes she told me her entire life story and showed me several photos. Translated by the other 2 Sisters. She always carried the photos of her twin sister with her in a little sac. She also showed me the Chapel where he Sisters pray and her special seat. And the beautiful gardens.She also loved talking about André. One year I really wanted André's flowers from the Vrijthof to give to her and I did just that. She was so happy to receive those special flowers.I saw her in July this year and also danced with her at the convent. We had a lovely time.I have always been in touch with her all the time up until 2 weeks ago. I was told that she was very quiet in her room. Then on Tuesday morning the Sisters informed me of her passing away.I am truly devasted and extremely sad. But I understand and accept that is life and we all have to move on. Also she is happier now with the Lord whom she dedicated her entire life. She means a lot to me . She gave me so much love blessings and inspiration and she will always be in my heart and prayers. May her soul be blessed and resting peace. Bebe.
From Sjef Jansen’s Facebook:I remember Rodica especially for her warmth, her interest and involvement in our concerts of André Rieu and David Garret. And not only in words. I do not easily forget the moments she came to my office with her self-made ciorba pirisoara, palinka, honey, cakes etc. to hear the latest news about our concerts. And not to forget the parties in the City Park in Maastricht during André's concerts. How she enjoyed it and again she was always there with surprises for us. She was a great André Rieu fan and part of our team, always ready to help. The last time I spoke with her was 10 days ago on the plane on my way to Asia. She liked flying so much and asked me to send her photos of my trip. Now she has made her last flight and leaves us alone. It will be difficult without her. Thanks Rodica for everything you meant to us, we will never forget you. Strength for your family, Mihai, Monica and Hiroko. Rest in peace.
December 6, 2019. In Memoriam:Rodica Trasca, (69)Romania.On the photo from left to right:Mihai (Rodica’s son), his fiance Monica, Rodica, Hiroko Ogawa, Sjef Jansen (André’s promotor in Romania), Ruud Elshout.
From Edna and Jack Welton, UK:We are so sad to hear of the passing of Rodica Trasca. She was such a happy-go-lucky lady and a big fan of André Rieu, through whom we met at a concert in Vienna in 2012. We have met several times since then, in Maastricht and Bucharest where her hospitality knew no ends, with visits to restaurants, the Therme Spa and up that long and winding road in the Transylvanian mountains. My heart goes out to Mihai and Monica. May she Rest in Peace.
Ruud and Ineke were shocked about the sudden passing away of Rodica Trasca who had become such a good friend over the years. We met Rodica for the first time in Maastricht in 2013. Since then we have been to Bucharest (Edna and Jack also) for the amazing concert on the Piata Constitutiei in 2016. Mihai and Rodica organized a guided tour through the city for us which was very interesting. Another year they also visited our hometown of The Hague in the Netherlands and that was our turn to show them around. We have put a lot of effort into making the André Rieu tulips bloom in Romania, but in vain. For some reason the bulbs didn't want to flourish in Romania. We had a lot of fun and we’ll cherish the memories.Our condolences go to the family and Hiroko Ogawa. The swan carries the candle we burn for her.
December 24, 2019. In Memoriam: Ria Schutter, 69. (NL)
Paul Harrison (UK): I am deeply saddened this morning by the news of the passing of my dear friend Ria Schutter from Holland. My heart goes out to her husband Arie for his great loss. Ria was a truly lovely lady I got to know through our mutual love of the soprano Carmen Monarcha and her music. Ria was the first person to greet me on my first visit to Maastricht and her warmth and kindness was immediately apparent. I subsequently got to know her husband Arie, who is a dear friend also.Ria and Arie were my companions for our trip to Curitiba in Brazil (November 2018), where we spent ten glorious days with our dear friends Rudolfo and Edna Schneider, Angela Caracik, and Marlene Chiaparini, and all our other dear Brazilian friends.
Ria was the happiest woman in the world for those ten days and she was so thrilled to attend the concert given by Carmen and to meet her, Octavio and Vitinho at the concert and at the Fan Meeting the previous day. It was a dream come true for her. I am so glad that her Dokters let her make that trip. Sadly Ria’s cancer returned and this time she was unable to fight it. We are truly saddened by her passing so suddenly even though she was so very poorly in the last couple of months or so. We will all miss her so much.