The Belgian violinist, violist, and conductor, Sigiswald Kuijken, studied music at the Bruges and Brussels Conservatories, where he received a premier prix for the violin in 1964. He was seven when he first came into contact with the Renaissance instruments. Like his brother Wieland, he is self-taught on the viola da gamba. This early, and for the most part, intuitive contact with early music strongly influenced his playing of the Baroque violin. In 1969 he began to re-establish the old technique of violin playing, without using a chin or a shoulder rest and without holding the instrument with the chin at all.
This technique has been adopted by many other players since then and was taught by Sigiswald Kuijken at The Hague Conservatory between 1971 and 1996. He continues to teach it at the Brussels Conservatory, where he has been professor since 1993. Between 1964 to 1972 he was a member of the Alarius Ensemble of Brussels, with whom he explored 17th and 18th-century music, and performance practice. With them and his brothers Wieland and Barthold, as well as with Robert Kohnen, Gustav Leonhardt and others, he has undertaken regular tours of Europe, the USA, Australia and Japan. He has also given countless solo recitals and has recorded most of Bach’s chamber works and pieces for solo violin as well as music by Arcangelo Corelli, Antonio Vivaldi and Muffat.
In 1972 Sigiswald Kuijken formed the Baroque Ensemble La Petite Bande, with whom he has recorded music by Lully, Rameau, J.S. Bach, George Frideric Handel, Gluck, Haydn, Mozart and many others. He also appears as guest conductor with many other Baroque ensembles, including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, whose inaugural concert he conducted at London’s Queen Elisabeth Hall in June 1986. The Kuijken String Quartet, which was formed in 1986, specialises in the quartets of Haydn and Mozart and has appeared throughout Europe, Australia and the USA. Its current members are Sigiswald Kuijken, François Fernandez, Marleen Thiers and Wieland Kuijken. For string quintets, the group is joined by the leader of La Petite Bande, Ryo Terakado, on the first viola. Other ongoing chamber music projects include the Mozart sonatas and piano quartets with his brothers Barthold and Wieland, and Debussy programme featuring the whole of Kuijken family.