WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne

Existing more than 65 years, the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne established as one of the most important broadcast orchestras of Europe. Its stylistic variety is the specific characteristic of the WDR Symphony Orchestra.

Under the direction of Garry Bertini, outstanding productions of the 19th century’s symphonies developed. Bertini was Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra from 1983 – 1991. Under his direction, the orchestra became one of the leading interpreters of Gustav Mahler’s symphonies.

Working with Semyon Bychkov, Chief Conductor from 1997 – 2010, defined the profile of WDR Symphony Orchestra even more. For their performances of compositions of Dmitrij Schostakowitsch, Richard Strauss, Sergej Rachmaninow, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner they were awarded and received rave reviews. Touring Europe, America and Asia successfully, increased the international reputation of WDR Symphony Orchestra.

Numerous first performances of commissioned works made a contribution to history of music and to the support of contemporary music, as did the cooperation with extraordinary composers of our time. Luciano Berio, Hans Werner Henze, Mauricio Kagel, Krzysztof Penderecki, Igor Strawinskij, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Bernd Alois Zimmermann are some of the composers, who performed their works with WDR Symphony Orchestra. Also the great number of excellent productions of contemporary music bear witness to the exceptional position of WDR Symphony Orchestra.

Its competence in historical informed performance practice in baroque and classical music are due to continuous cooperation with conductors like Ton Koopman, Christopher Hogwood or Reinhard Goebel.

Since 2010/2011 season, Jukka-Pekka Saraste is Chief Conductor of WDR Symphony Orchestra. Conductor and orchestra already have worked together successfully for a long time. In November 2009 their performance of the 9th Symphony of Gustav Mahler in Cologne was acclaimed as “announcement of a great aera” in press reports. Also the awards from Deutsche Schallplattenkritik and the magazine Gramophone, which Orchestra and Conductor received for the publication of that concert on CD, approve this. More common CD releases of works by Igor Stravinskij and Arnold Schoenberg and invitations to major festivals and concert halls in Europe documenting the artistic success of the collaboration.