No one dares say who conspired to keep the mottled millions from their Blue Danubes, yet Rieu believes the solemn atmosphere of most classical performances is driving audiences away. To be fair, Rieu's intentions are only to make folks happy; he himself was raised on a strict diet of orchestral favorites until an epiphanous collegiate discovery of Franz Lehár's "Gold and Silver Waltz."
For most people, though, Rieu's existence will merely prompt the question, Who likes this stuff? PBS, for starters: It regularly broadcasts Rieu's sold-out concerts. And then there's this destabilizing statistic: Rieu's Strauss & Co. album has gone platinum eight times over in the Netherlands. That's one in every five residents -- roughly the percentage of people who own Barbra Streisand albums in the States. Wow.