The Freiburger Barockorchester (Freiburg Baroque Orchestra) is a period-instrument ensemble focused on the authentic performance of Baroque music, though its repertoire extends into the Classical and Romantic periods as well. The Freiburger Barockorchester is mainly led by the concertmaster and often features members of the ensemble as soloists.
The Freiburger Barockorchester was founded in 1987, in the German city known as the unofficial "Capital of the Black Forest," by a group of students who shared an interest in playing Baroque music on authentic period instruments. The first three years of its existence, the Freiburger Barockorchester performed without a conductor, preferring to select a musician from within its ranks to lead its music on a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, in 1990, Thomas Hengelbrock was named joint musical director along with Gottfried von der Goltz, a situation that lasted until 1997 when Hengelbrock stepped down. His place was taken by Petra Müllejans, who lead the Freiburger Barockorchester in tandem with von der Goltz. Müllejans was succeeded by Kristian Bezuidenhout in 2017. The ensemble regularly performs with guest conductors for more expansive works and still often performs without a conductor.
The Freiburger Barockorchester tours all over the world and records with frequency; it utilizes distinguished guest conductors on about a fourth of its public concerts, but not on recordings. Freiburger Barockorchester contributed some of the very best recordings to be issued by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi in the waning years of its association with BMG. The group's controversial recording of the J.S. Bach Mass in B minor, led by Hengelbrock and featuring the Balthasar-Neumann-Chor, is perhaps the only recording of this work in recent memory to approach Bach's masterwork from a genuinely new perspective. The Freiburger Barockorchester is also known for its capability in accompanying singers, such as Sandrine Piau and Angelika Kirchschlager; the latter appears with the group on a Christmas DVD entitled Sounds Like Christmas. Although it did not accompany Cecilia Bartoli on her recording Opera Proibita, the Freiburger Barockorchester accompanied Bartoli in touring with its program, with Müllejans leading the ensemble. The Freiburger BarockConsort is a chamber group that is drawn from the inner ranks of the Freiburger Barockorchester.
Since BMG folded its classical operation in 1999, the Freiburger Barockorchester has appeared on the Virgin, Naïve, and Harmonia Mundi labels, among others. In 2019, the Freiburger Barockorchester released several recordings: Beethoven: Leonore and Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No. 2; Symphony No. 1 on Harmonia Mundi, and Mozart: Youth Symphonies on Aparte.