André Rieu, the renowned Dutch violinist and conductor, has mesmerized audiences around the world with his extravagant performances at the helm of the Johann Strauss Orchestra.

However, behind the scenes of the grandeur, Rieu faced a significant challenge in 2010 when a viral infection in his inner ear threatened to derail his illustrious career. This article explores André Rieu’s battle with illness and his journey to recovery, shedding light on the toll that a relentless schedule and stress took on his health.

The Viral Onslaught: Striking Down a Maestro

In 2010, after an unbroken streak of never taking a day off for illness, André Rieu’s invincibility was shattered by a viral infection in his vestibular nerve – a critical component of the inner ear responsible for balance.

andre rieu illness

The onset was sudden, manifesting as an overwhelming dizziness and nausea that left Rieu unable to stand without feeling disoriented. This marked a turning point for the musician, who, until then, believed in the healing power of music and the resilience of the mind.

The Perfect Storm: Stress and Overwork

André Rieu reflects on the circumstances leading up to his illness, describing a period of intense multitasking and stress. A combination of finishing a DVD, undertaking Spanish lessons, and managing administrative tasks overwhelmed his already hectic schedule. The maestro, accustomed to two speeds – nothing and full pelt – found himself grappling with the consequences of overwork and stress.

andre rieu illness

The vestibular nerve infection, also known as vestibular neuritis, is a condition where any viral infection, even as common as a cold, can affect the vestibular nerve. This interference disrupts the messages sent to the brain regarding balance, resulting in symptoms such as vertigo, deafness in one ear, and motion sickness-like nausea. Rieu initially downplayed the severity of his condition, attempting to soldier on with his performances.

The Unpleasant Realization: Cancelled Tours and Uncertain Future

As the symptoms persisted, André Rieu faced the harsh reality of his situation. Concerts had to be canceled, including a massive audience event in Amsterdam.

andre rieu illness

The once-indomitable musician sought solutions from the medical world, only to be told that rest was the only prescription. The dilemma intensified as Rieu grappled with the financial responsibility of a team relying on his leadership.

André Rieu’s Road to Recovery: Balancing Act

Rieu’s determination to resume his hectic schedule clashed with the doctor’s advice for a six-month hiatus. The maestro sought alternative remedies suggested by well-wishers, but it was a letter from an Australian fan that provided a glimmer of hope. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT), involving specialized exercises focused on eye movements and balance retraining, became Rieu’s path to recovery.

andre rieu illness

The rehabilitation regimen involved rigorous eye movements, figure-eight walking, and standing on one leg with closed eyes. Rieu committed to these exercises three times a day, each session lasting about half an hour. Over a span of three months, the diligent musician witnessed significant improvements in his condition. The once-embarrassed and fatigued artist regained his health and vitality.

Life Changes: A New Perspective on Health

For Rieu, the experience prompted a reevaluation of his priorities. He recognized the risk of a relapse and took proactive measures to reduce stress.

andre rieu illness

Lists were made, and Rieu made a conscious decision to focus solely on what he loved: making music, performing concerts, and creating CDs and DVDs. The tumultuous period of illness became a catalyst for positive change in Rieu’s life, leading to a renewed commitment to his well-being.


André Rieu’s journey through illness serves as a testament to the fragility of even the most robust talents in the face of relentless schedules and stress.

The maestro’s resilience and commitment to recovery, coupled with the support of medical advice and rehabilitative therapy, allowed him to reclaim his health and continue enchanting audiences worldwide. Rieu’s story is not just one of musical brilliance but also a compelling narrative of overcoming adversity and rediscovering balance in life.

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