How We Met: André Rieu & Sir Anthony Hopkins

'I didn't know it, but my wife had sent him my score'

Sir Anthony Hopkins, 74

After graduating from Rada in the early 1960s, the acclaimed stage and screen actor has since appeared in more than 100 films, including 'Silence of the Lambs', for which he won an Oscar, 'Remains of the Day' and 'Nixon'. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife

I have been writing music and composing for many years, but I never did anything with it – I'd wanted to be a musician when I was younger, but I wasn't a good student as a kid, so I just dabbled around and wrote this piece, "And the Waltz Goes On", in 1964.

I was watching one of André's concerts on TV, years later, and said to my wife, "I'd love to have that waltz played in Vienna." Some time later I got a call from André and he said, "I got your waltz." I said, "What?" He said, "I've just performed it with my orchestra in rehearsal." I didn't know it, but my wife had sent him the score.

So in April 2011 I flew to Maastricht and went to his house, where he played the recording – I thought it was beautiful. He named his album after it, too. I was honoured when we took it to play in Vienna, in one of the palaces there, and took my bow afterwards. Did I cry? I don't emotionally respond to things like that. People may cry at the drop of a hat in Hollywood, but I'm not like that.

André has all the most unfashionable characteristics: you mention charisma or glamour these days and people's lips curl up cynically, but I like his boundless enthusiasm. He's a showman – he drives 100mph down side-streets, and at his house he has a castle tower in the garden.

He has a great rapport with his audiences and plays to huge stadiums of more than 10,000 people around the world, where he gets up on stage with his long hair and he cuts this romantic figure. Purists will say, "Yes, but it's showing-off music." He said one day to me, "The critics, they really attack me." And I said to him, "You ever saw a monument to a dead critic?" He's got waltz back in fashion.

I may come from a tough working-class background in Wales but I think we both have a romance in us – I'm drawn to the waltz and to him. I have few sentimental attachments in my life but with André – well, I think we've become quite good friends

André Rieu, 63

The Dutch violinist and conductor is best known for creating the waltz-playing Johann Strauss Orchestra, performing with up to 150 musicians worldwide. He lives in Maastricht, Holland, with his wife

A lot of people send me their waltzes – every week, in fact. But when I got a call from my office early last year, I was surprised when they said Sir Anthony Hopkins was sending me one, as I didn't know he had a musical side. But I figured a man like him wouldn't send me a bad waltz. I can imagine it must have been a struggle for him thinking, "Shall I give it to the world?"

Afterwards I went home and filled my iPad with all his movies – except Silence of the Lambs; I will not watch that.

The next day I had the orchestra in the studio and we played his waltz through for the first time. I thought it was fantastic and I sent the performance to him immediately. He phoned me up as soon as he heard it and, to me, it sounded like he was welling up [with emotion].

We met finally when he came to visit me in my studio at Maastricht, with the orchestra. Everyone was so excited – and nervous. But he was so gentle and kind; he embraced everyone, and gave them all autographs, too. After we played it to him live, he was like, "I love it, I love it, and I have tears in my eyes!"

Playing his waltz for the first time in one of the most beautiful halls in Vienna was like a dream for both of us.

He's given me a lot of gifts but the most memorable for me was the two teacups he bought for me and my wife, so when we drink tea together we think of Anthony and his wife.

Lately he's been working on a film [playing Alfred Hitchcock, in Hitchcock] and he closes himself off from everyone – there's no contact as he's the sort of actor who goes completely into their role – but I understand and respect that.

I loved his performance in Remains of the Day, how he played this English butler with all that repressed emotion. Then there was The Mask of Zorro, which I actually liked. Though he tells me that when journalists interview him they say, "Why did you accept the role in Zorro?" and he says, "For the money – of course!"

Both our hearts are like boys – they're open. He is a romantic person and I think I am, too, though in all other senses we are completely different. But there are not many people from whom I feel such openness and warmth without any shit. I hope what we have will last for ever.

André Rieu's new album, 'Magic of the Movies', is out now on Decca. Rieu & his Johann Strauss Orchestra are touring the UK from 7 to 20 December (andrerieu.com). 'Hitchcock' is out next February

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific