Freiburger Barockorchester (The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra) (= FBO) has soared to fame and success in almost record time. Their concert venues alone indicate that the FBO has long since left the niche of "Old Music", ranking now among the most popular chamber orchestras in the world.
The joyously infectious performances of the FBO musicians demonstrate that music performed on period instruments can be not only of the highest professional standard but also a pleasure to play.
Commenting on the release of their CD of Antonio Vivaldi´s Four Seasons, a critic remarked that in the ensemble´s performance there was not much left that was old about their music. "This is pure avant-garde", he wrote.
They have remained true to their original intention to work together on a democratic basis, convinced that this is the most appropriate form for them artistically as well as in organisational matters. Their decision to perform without a conductor - even symphonic programs of the early Romantic period - is thus quite deliberate, reviving a tradition practised right into the 19th century.
The Orchestra is in the rather unique position of being able to call on members of its own ranks to perform even the most difficult solo parts. This shows not only the high standard of each individual musician but also presents the FBO´s advantage whereby virtuoso solo parts are not simply accompanied by the Tutti, but, as was common practice in the 17th and 18th centuries, are consciously blended into the whole ensemble.
In 1987 the FBO played the first of more than 600 concerts to date. In the following year a highly praised concert in the Berlin Philharmonie gave rise to national acclaim and in 1989 the Orchestra began the first of its international tours with an appearance in Amsterdam. In 1995 the FBO discovered America. Today half of their concerts take place abroad.
The musicians recruited their first conductor, Thomas Hengelbrock, from their own ranks. He was leader of the FBO at the time, and from 1990, when the first of their 20 CD’s was released, he successfully wielded the baton, remaining associated with the Orchestra until 1997 as its artistic director together with Gottfried von der Goltz. Under the sole artistic direction of Gottfried von der Goltz, a new phase was accentuated not only by sensational CD productions such as "The Four Seasons" but also by the FBO´s own subscription cycle in the Konzerthaus of its home-town Freiburg. A subscription list of over 1200 proves just how astonishingly popular the FBO is with its audience and these figures also provide a unique and reliable basis for orchestra management planning.
On the strength of this basis, further expansion was undertaken. The 1999-2000 season opened with two more FBO subscription cycles, one in the Stuttgart Liederhalle and the other at the Berlin Philharmonie.