German violinist and conductor Gottfried von der Goltz has gained recognition as the leader of the Freiburger Barockorchester or Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, an innovative historical-performance ensemble. He was born in the Bavarian city of Würzburg on June 1, 1964. He studied with his father, Georg Conrad von der Goltz, and his Norwegian mother, Kirsti Hjort. Von der Goltz studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Hannover under Rami Shevelov, moved to New York for graduate studies at the Juilliard School, and continued taking lessons with Rainer Kussmaul in Freiburg. At age 21, von der Goltz earned a violin chair in the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, looking forward to a secure career with a solid German orchestra. Two years later he relinquished that post in favor of the Baroque violin, in the mid-1980s not a terribly common instrument in Germany. That led to von der Goltz's leadership of the Freiburger Barockorchester, where he has also held the post of artistic director. Depending on repertory, he may lead the orchestra with his violin or take up the conductor's baton. He continues to play works for modern violin on occasion; his historical-instrument performances extend into the early Romantic era.
From 1997 to 2004 von der Goltz taught violin at the Hochschule für Musik Würzburg, moving to the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg in 2004. He assumed the directorship of the Norwegian Baroque Orchestra in Oslo in 2007. With the Freiburg group he has amassed a large catalog of recordings, beginning in 1994 with an album of works by Purcell and Handel. He has recorded mostly for the Harmonia Mundi and Carus labels. Von der Goltz has recorded music by Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi, but has also explored lesser-known Baroque violin works from Dresden and other cities in central Germany. On the 2018 release Handel: Concerti a Due Cori, von der Goltz teamed with violinist Petra Müllejans to conduct the two halves of the Freiburger Barockorchester in antiphonally structured Handel concerti grossi.