Sylvain Burki Profile

words by Charmaine Kritzinger
photo Micky Wiswedel

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, to Swiss-French parents, Sylvain embodied the perfect
balance between refinement and ruggedness.

Hedi and Ernest, Sylvain’s parents, freedom seekers themselves, met 45 years ago, travelled the world by ship, and were offered a place to stay in Bakoven. They ended up raising two sons nearby, in Tableview, both schooled at Milnerton High, Sylvain excelling as a gymnast and also in music, choosing the oboe at school level, because the queue was the shortest.

The Burki sons returned to Switzerland to study at age 18. Sylvain decided on classical music, because it came most naturally. To complete his Master’s, he spent two years in Berlin, learning German in the process, which he spoke fluently. Later on, he also developed a keen interest in Xhosa and Afrikaans.

Strong Swiss traditions were upheld in his youth with the family returning most years during the June–July holidays to visit extended family in Lausanne.

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