'Like him or loathe him'
critical reactions to André Rieu in Australia
Keywords:arts funding, classical music, midcult, Rieu
Since 2007, André Rieu CDs, DVDs, television shows and concerts have saturated Australian media. Consequently, Rieu’s popularity—the extent of which is remarkable for a classical musician—has drawn significant attention from commentators, critics and musicians, much of which is negative in tone. This article describes the criticisms made of Rieu in the Australian media, and explores the socio-cultural motivations for these reactions. It explores Rieu’s position as a liminal classical and ‘popular’ musician, and proposes that Rieu can be viewed as a symptom of a diminishing cultural hierarchy. It furthermore associates criticism of the Rieu ‘phenomenon’ with anxieties about Arts status and funding in Australia, and proposes that disapproval of Rieu is used as a proxy for more general condemnations of Australian tastes.
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