Sigiswald Kuijken

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Sigiswald Kuijken (born February 16, 1944 in Dilbeek near Brussels ) is a Belgian violinist, viola player and conductor. He is one of the most important pioneers in researching the playing techniques of the 17th and 18th centuries on the baroque violin . Since 2004 he has been campaigning for the revival of the violoncello da spalla .


S. Kuijken with the violoncello da Spalla

Kuijken received his training at the Conservatories of Bruges and then with Maurice Raskin during his high school years in Brussels. Here he met his future wife Marleen Thiers, who first studied with Arthur Grumiaux and later also with Raskin. Kuijken received his diploma in 1964. While still a student he was with his two brothers Wieland Kuijken and Barthold Kuijken from 1960 to 1971 a member of the Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles founded by Pierre Bartholomée .

At the age of seven he had his first contact with instruments from the Renaissance period , whose fascination never let go of him. So the two brothers Wieland and Sigiswald learned to play the viol on their own. As an 18-year-old Kuijken was able to participate in the Safford Cape- directed ensemble Pro Musica Antique , with whom he made several recordings and took part in concert tours. After completing his studies, he became a member of the Alarius Ensemble (Brussels), which at first also devoted itself to contemporary music, but from 1964 to 1972 increasingly attracted attention with recordings and radio recordings of works from the 17th and early 18th centuries . During this time, and increasingly from 1969 onwards, Kuijken began to rediscover the old techniques of violin playing in self-experiment. From 1971 to 1996 he was professor for baroque violin at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag . During this time he taught countless violinists the rediscovered techniques. At the same time he worked several times as a conductor at the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music .

In 1972, at the request of Gustav Leonhardt , Kuijken put together a larger ensemble for a recording of the opera “Bourgeois Gentilhomme” by Jean-Baptiste Lully on behalf of the “Deutsche Harmonia Mundi”, which could make music on original instruments or true copies . This was the hour of birth of the La Petite Bande ensemble . In addition to concerts that have taken him around the world, Kuijken is represented in numerous recordings with Gustav Leonhardt and Robert Kohnen as harpsichords and with his orchestra. The focus of his work is the music of the 17th and 18th centuries by German, Italian and French composers such as Georg Muffat , Johann Sebastian Bach , Arcangelo Corelli , Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau , François Couperin and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart . He also performs regularly with his two brothers Wieland Kuijken (viola da gamba, cello ) and Barthold Kuijken ( transverse flute ), who are also internationally known virtuosos on their instruments. In addition to his wife, the family ensemble now includes the second generation with Marie, Piet and Sara Kuijken.

In 2004 Kuijken first used a cello da spalla , which was made at his suggestion by the musician and violin maker Dmitry Badiarov based on historical descriptions and illustrations.

From 1993 until his retirement in 2009, Kuijken taught baroque violin at the Dutch-speaking section of the Royal Conservatory in Brussels . The Kuijken Quartet, which has existed since 1986 and in which family members also include violinists such as Ryo Terakado and François Fernandez , has now developed a romantic repertoire. In addition to his full-time activities as a lecturer, Kuijken was visiting professor at the Royal College of Music in London , at the University of Salamanca , at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana , at the Conservatoire de musique de Genève and at the Leipzig University of Music .

In the period from 2005 to 2012, Kuijken, convinced by Joshua Rifkin 's thesis that Bach had only one vocal quartet in his cantatas, motets, passions and masses, made recordings with the small choir consisting of four singers.

On the way to the spread of historical performance practice , starting in 1968 as an autodidact, he laid the violin freely on his shoulder without a support or chinrest and, through the free playing technique thus achieved, set milestones for the rediscovery of an "authentic sound image" in the baroque violin. Contrary to some other doctrines, Kuijken is a staunch advocate of this "chin-off" practice.

Like his colleagues Franzjosef Maier and Reinhard Goebel in Cologne as well as Eduard Melkus in Vienna and Marie Leonhardt in The Hague, he promoted the development of a new generation of professional baroque violinists at an early stage.


  • On February 2, 2007, Kuijken received an honorary doctorate from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven .
  • In February 2009 he was awarded the € 20,000 Culture Prize of the Flemish Community .

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. Sigiswald Kuiken: in Bleib bei uns, Bach , pp. 36 and 37, Lannoo Verlag, Tielt, 2017 ISBN 9789401428576