Born in Brazil, Luís Otávio Santos comes from a family of musicians and began his musical studies at an early age—first on the piano, and then on the violin. His interest in baroque music took him to the Netherlands in 1990 to study baroque violin at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague with Sigiswald Kuijken, and harpsichord with Jacques Ogg. At eighteen, he was already one of the main members and soloists of La Petite Bande, a Belgian baroque orchestra that plays a leading role in the early music movement worldwide. With this group, he toured extensively in Europe, Asia, and South America, and also made more than seventy CDs and television recordings. His reputation as a baroque violin virtuoso also earned him leading positions in other important European ensembles, such as Le Concert Français, Ricercar Consort, Nederlandse Bachverening, Il Fondamento, and Complesso Barocco.
Santos has made several acclaimed solo recordings, including one of the Bach sonatas for violin and harpsichord with Pieter-Jan Belder for the Dutch CD label Brilliant. In 2005 he received the Diapason d’Or for his recording of Jean-Marie Leclair sonatas for the label Ramée. From 1997 to 2001, he was professor of baroque violin at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole, Italy. He was also a guest teacher at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, as assistant to Sigiswald Kuijken, from 1998 to 2005.
In his home country of Brazil, Santos is the Artistic Director of the Festival Internacional de Musica Colonial Brasileira e Musica Antiga de Juiz de Fora, which he founded in 1990. During its twenty-five years, the Festival has garnered several national awards. Its recordings of Brazilian Colonial Music were awarded the Brazilian Ministry of Culture’s IPHAN prize for the preservation of Brazil’s heritage and cultural past, and several scholarly publications and previously unpublished works have also been performed during the event. Santos is currently the director of the early music department of the School of Music of São Paulo (EMESP), where he also teaches baroque violin. He received a doctorate in music from UNICAMP (University of Campinas), and he is increasingly being invited to conduct modern orchestras in Brazil, in repertoire ranging from opera to symphonic.