Conductor • Violin • Viola
• Born 1944
Often appears with
Sigiswald Kuijken has been a pioneer in performing and teaching the Baroque violin technique. He and his brothers were all exposed to early instruments as children. Sigiswald and Wieland intuitively taught themselves how to play the viola da gamba.
Sigiswald was born on February 16, 1944, in Dilbbek, Belgium. He studied violin at the conservatory in Bruges, then in Brussels with Maurice Raskin, earning his degree in 1964. After doing his own research into Baroque performance practice, Kuijken began playing Baroque works on the violin without using a chinrest or shoulder rest and, in fact, not using his chin at all to hold the instrument. He began teaching this method, and others quickly adopted it. Kuijken taught Baroque violin at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague (1971-1996) and the Koninklijk Muziekconservatorium in Brussels (1993-2009). He is frequently invited to teach at the Royal College of Music in London, Salamanca University, and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, among other schools.
Kuijken performed with the Alarius Ensemble between 1964 and 1972, and then at the encouragement of the Deutsche Harmonia Mundi label and Gustav Leonhardt, founded his own orchestra, La Petite Bande, to perform Baroque and Classical works. He has traveled throughout Europe, North America, Australia, China, and Japan with La Petite Bande, and together they have recorded works by Lully, Pergolesi, Mozart, Haydn, Bach, and Geminiani. He also undertook more independent projects with others, such as his brothers Wieland and Barthold, Gustav Leonhardt, Robert Kohnen, Anner Bylsma, Frans Brüggen, and René Jacobs.
In 1986, he and his brother Wieland founded the Kuikjen String Quartet with François Fernandez, Marleen Thiers, and sometimes joined by violist Ryo Terakado, specifically to perform Classical period quartets and quintets. That same year, Kuijken conducted the inaugural concert in London of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. In the late 1990s, he began doing more conducting of modern orchestras in works of Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms. Along with his time spent performing with brothers Wieland and Barthold, Sigiswald has been performing in expanded family ensembles since 1998. He is often joined by daughters Veronica (piano), Sara (viola), and Marie (soprano). These ensembles include the Kuijken Piano Quartet, with Veronica, Sara, and Michel Boulanger (cello), and lieder performances with Marie.
Kuijken has had an extensive recording career, recording with labels such as Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Accent, Brilliant Classics, and Challenge Classics. Major projects have included the sonatas of Mozart, Mozart's and Debussy's chamber music with his brothers, and Bach's cantatas with La Petite Bande, recorded between 2006 and 2012. In 2019, Kuijken issued albums of Heinrich Schütz's Resurrection of Christ, on Accent, and Bach's Matthäus-Passion, on Challenge Classics.