5 Fast Facts with Sigiswald Kuijken

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Sigiswald Kuijken is widely considered a leader in historical performance - over the years, Sigiswald and his family’s rich experience of baroque and classical music have inspired and influenced generations of musicians. After his first visit to Aotearoa in 1979 with his two brothers and harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt, he's now returning for string quartet performances with his wife and daughter and cellist Michel Boulanger, and special solo recitals.


Between 1969 and 1971 Sigiswald started to change his violin technique and adopted what people call “chin-off” playing (in modern times, the most common technique is to hold the violin between the chin and the shoulder).




It could be argued that Sigiswald’s relationship with music was inevitable: “I feel as if I never had to make a choice, it was always clear. In both families of my parents there were lots of amateur musicians. The genes did their work – of six brothers, three went into music”.


CMNZ Chief Executive, Peter Walls, first heard Sigiswald Kuijken playing in 1972 in Duns Tew, a beautiful little village in the Cotswalds, where he and his brothers were giving a summer school. According to Peter “Sigiswald’s playing was a revelation. Suddenly, repertoire that had been a closed book to me (Italian violin sonatas from the early 17th century, violin compositions from the French Baroque) not only made sense but seemed extraordinarily fresh and inventive.”


He wrote a book “Bleib bei uns, Bach” (after Cantata no. 6 by J.S. Bach: "Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden"). Described as a book "not for musicologists, but for happiness," it talks about his first encounter with Bach, as a child, his time in the Bruges and Brusselles conservatorium, as well as the foundation of La Petite Bande and how he started adopting his “chin off” violin technique. 



Sigiswald doesn’t own a cellphone. “I’m not against the present, and I’m not a nostalgic person. It’s just that everything feels so hectic these days. Of course there are times when I have to be available, and I am. But it’s a pity if it’s all the time. Things get too hectic and the sense of calm gets lost.”


Find out more about the Kuijken Quartet's tour starting 8 July - here.