The Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne (Gürzenich Orchester Köln) is a German symphony orchestra based in Cologne (Köln). On some recordings, the orchestra goes under the name “Gürzenich-Orchester Kölner Philharmoniker”. Its name comes from its past principal concert venue, the Gürzenich concert hall in Cologne. Currently, its primary concert venue is the Kölner Philharmonie (Cologne Philharmonic Hall).

The Gürzenich Orchestra traces its origins to 1827, when a group of Cologne Bürger sponsored the creation of the “Cölner Concert-Gesellschaft” (Cologne Concert Society) to set up “Gesellschaftskonzerte” (Society concerts) and “Abonnementskonzerte” (subscription concerts). The orchestra began to give concerts at the Gürzenich concert hall in 1857, from which it derived its current name. In 1986, the orchestra took up residence at the Kölner Philharmonie. The orchestra also plays in opera productions in the Cologne Opera.

The world premieres performed by the Gürzenich Orchestra include the following works:


  • Conradin Kreutzer (1840-1842)
  • Heinrich Dorn (1843-1849)
  • Ferdinand Hiller (1850-1884)
  • Franz Wüllner (1884-1902)
  • Fritz Steinbach (1903-1914)
  • Hermann Abendroth, GMD (1915-1934)
  • Eugen Papst (1936-1944)
  • Günter Wand, GMD (1945-1974)
  • Yuri Ahronovitch (1975-1986)
  • Marek Janowski (1986-1990)
  • James Conlon, GMD (1990-2002)
  • Markus Stenz, GMD (2003-2014)
  • François-Xavier Roth, (2015-present)


The Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne is one of Germany’s leading orchestras and can look back on a great tradition. Since 1986 the ensemble’s home has been at the Kölner Philharmonie, where it presents about 50 concerts annually, simultaneously giving over 160 performances a year at the Cologne Opera. Since the season 2015/2016 François-Xavier Roth is new Gürzenich-Kapellmeister (Chief Conductor) and General Music Director of the City of Cologne.

The historical roots of the Orchestra reach as far back as the 15th century, to the founding of the Cologne Cathedral’s instrumental ensemble which, until the end of the 18th century, provided Cologne with concerts and theatre music in addition to church music. In 1827, under the patronage of well-to-do citizens dedicated to the arts, the orchestra was brought under the auspices of the Cologne Concert Society. Its members organised performances that, from 1857 on, were held in the concert hall called the “Gürzenich”, hence the orchestra’s name.

The Gürzenich-Orchestra has always attracted leading conductors and composers of the time and has premiered important works such as the Brahms Double Concerto, Till Eulenspiegel and Don Quixote by Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler’s 5th Symphony, as well as Max Reger’s Hiller-Variations and Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Concerto for Orchestra. From 2015 until 2019 Philippe Manoury is invited by the Orchestra as “Composer for Cologne”, creating a trilogy of new spatialised orchestra pieces.

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