The Cologne Chamber Orchestra is the oldest chamber orchestra in Germany. In 1923 the idea of interpretations appropriate to the work in question led to its founding. In 1963 Helmut Müller-Brühl took over the musical directorship from the conductors of the early years, Hermann Abendroth and later Erich Kraack. A widely acclaimed concert tour to Switzerland with the pianist Wilhelm Kempff in 1964 launched the Orchestra’s collaboration with numerous internationally renowned soloists. Ever since, Müller-Brühl and the Orchestra enjoyed impressive success in Europe, North and South America, Asia and at international festivals. Christoph Poppen, Principal Conductor, has studied the living musical tradition of the ensemble intensively.
As part of the Brühler Schlosskonzerte (Brühl Palace Concerts), founded and led for more than three decades by Helmut Müller-Brühl, the Cologne Chamber Orchestra regularly performed operas and concerts as a festival orchestra. Since 1988 it has presented the concert series “Das Meisterwerk” (“The Masterwork”) at Cologne’s Philharmonie.
Traditionally, young soloists considered newcomers or insiders’ tips were invited to the Cologne Philharmonie by the Cologne Chamber Orchestra. Thus, Julia Fischer made her debut at the age of 17 as part of the “Meisterwerk” concerts. Names like Christoph Eschenbach, Christine Schäfer and Alban Gerhardt are closely associated with this concert series.
More than 200 CD and LP recordings, radio and television productions featuring the Cologne Chamber Orchestra document a repertoire of more than 500 masterworks and unknown jewels. Since 1995 the ensemble has worked with the CD label Naxos, a worldwide presence, to record a constantly growing repertoire. In 2001 its recording of the three Darmstadt Overtures by Telemann won the Cannes Classical Award.
Lastly, international guest performances have led the orchestra to several successful tours to South Korea and to Christoph Poppen’s »Festival Internacional de Música do Marvão« in Portugal. The Cologne Chamber Orchestra has also regularly performed at prestigious festivals, including Festival Spannungen in Heimbach, Rheingau Musik Festival and Klavierfestival Ruhr.
This season the orchestra is travelling with an extensive tour in the Netherlands performing a half-scenic opera by Haydn “Lo Speziale” under the direction of Jan Willem de Vriend.
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