Isabelle van Keulen was born in Mijdrecht, Holland, on December 16, 1966. She was a gifted child, giving her first concert at 10. She studied music at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam, under Davina van Wely. Later teachers included Vladimir Spivakov
, Boris Gutnikov, and Sándor Végh. During her student years she won two important competitions: the Menuhin Competition in Folkestone, England (1983) and the 1984 Eurovision Young Musician of the Year Competition, held that year in Geneva, Switzerland.
By 1990 she was recognized as one of Europe's leading young violinists. That year she began regularly appearing in concert as a violist. Her branching out continued: she founded the Isos Quartet in 1995 (for which she performs as first violinist), and in 1996 she founded the Holland-based Delft International Music Festival, which she served as director until 2006.
While her successes in the recording studio include such brilliant early efforts as her 1991 Philips CD of the Mozart
Violin Concertos No. 3 and No. 5, her later forays often involved riskier fare altogether, like the 2007 CPO CD of the nearly hour-long Violin Concerto by Allan Pettersson
. Van Keulen has also devoted time to teaching and serving on the faculty of the Basle Music Academy and the Royal Conservatory of the Hague. Her 2007-2008 concert schedule included a typically imaginative and daring mixture of works by Berg
, and a host of others.