Sigi Nissel was born in Munich to a Jewish family from Vienna. He began playing the violin at the age of 6. His mother died when he was 9. He was taken by his father to Vienna, where his teachers included Max Weissgärber. Nissel was evacuated from Vienna in 1938 to Great Britain.
The Amadeus Quartet, informally known as the Wolf Gang, gave its first concert in London in 1948. The Amadeus Quartet made some 200 recordings, among them the complete quartets of Beethoven, Brahms, and Mozart and works by 20th-century composers such as Béla Bartók and Benjamin Britten (who wrote his third quartet for them).