Born in 1949, Barthold Kuijken grew up in an environment where music held pride of place: two of his older bothers studied music and were passionate about early music. He began studying the flute in Bruges and continued his studies at the conservatoires of Brussels and the Hague. During this time, he played early music most often on the recorder.
By happy coincidence, he found an excellent original traverse. With its help, and in studying other instruments conserved in numerous museums and private collections, while at the same time consulting manuscripts from the 17th and 18th centuries, he became a self-taught specialist in the interpretation of early music on original instruments. He is the flute player in the baroque orchestra La petite Bande, and gives chamber music concert s throughout the world. Since 1986 he has become more and more interested in orchestral conducting, and has recorded Mozart’s Gran partita and the concertante suites of J.S. and J.L. Bach.
He is often invited as a member of the jury in international competitions, or to give masterclasses of early music. For Breitkopf & Härtel, he has published a new critical edition with commentary on the flute works by J.S. Bach (Urtext). As professor of baroque flute in the Royal Conservatoires of Brussel and The Hague (until 2014), he has trained a large number of excellent young flute players. In 2007 he obtained the first Doctorate in music in Belgium (VUB – Free Dutch-speaking University of Brussels). His essay The Notation is not the Music – Reflections on Early Music Practice and Performance was published by Indiana University Press in 2013.