WDR Funkhausorchester

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The Funkhausorchester under Eckehard Stier in Münster

The WDR Funkhausorchester ( WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln until 2014 ) is a symphonic entertainment orchestra of West German Radio in Cologne . The Funkhausorchester in its current form was founded in 1947 and emerged from several smaller instrumental formations, some of which have existed since 1927. It is presented by WDR as a “prominent figurehead” of the station and currently consists of 52 members.


The repertoire covers the entire range of light music , musicals , feature operas and operettas , film music (also for silent films ) and niches of classical music, the unknown oratorio and related jazz. Time and again the WDR Funkhausorchester breaks new ground with its programs, for example with the concert performance of music to video games . The WDR Funkhausorchester Köln also works with the WDR Rundfunkchor and the WDR Big Band .

Permanent arrangers for the newer repertoire are Wieland Reissmann, Dietmar Mensinger and Ingo Luis. For several years the orchestra has been working with younger conductors such as Alondra de la Parra , Enrico Delamboye , Rasmus Baumann , André de Ridder and Arjan Tien . The British conductor Wayne Marshall has been chief conductor since the 2014/2015 season .


In addition to regular appearances in the concert halls of North Rhine-Westphalia and at international music festivals in Germany and abroad, the WDR Funkhausorchester holds popular concert series in the Cologne Philharmonic and in the large broadcasting hall of the Cologne Radio House. Participating in television programs, for example " Zimmer frei ", is just as much a part of his field of activity as working in the production studio. Numerous recordings have been awarded record prizes. Under the direction of the then chief conductor Helmuth Froschauer , the orchestra began extensive touring activities in 2001 (including Spain , Germany , Turkey ).

Singing competitions and music festivals

The orchestra has been accompanying international competitions in Cologne for many years, has been invited to other competitions ( Competizione dell 'Opera of the Dresden Music Festival 2002 in Dresden , German Music Council ) and is a guest at national and international music festivals ( Beethovenfest Bonn , Dresden Music Festival , Rheingau Music Festival ).



The early history of the WDR Funkhausorchester began in the Café Germania on Hohe Strasse in Cologne in the 1920s. The Germania Salon Orchestra under the direction of Leo Eysoldt was one of the best in the city, with its unusually large line-up of 20 musicians playing upscale light and popular music at a "remarkably demanding level" ( Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger , May 1926). After the founding of the WDR in Münster in 1924 and the move to Cologne in 1927, the director at the time, Ernst Hardt, was looking for an orchestra for light entertainment. He found what he was looking for in Café Germania, where he met and engaged Leo Eysoldt. He put together an orchestra, the Leo Eysoldt Orchestra, which existed until 1942 before it was disbanded during the war and Eysoldt was transferred to the BR in Munich.

After the end of the war, WDR commissioned Hans Bund in June 1946 to put together a new orchestra in the style of Leo Eysoldts. This started very successfully, but was dissolved after a few months in order to form the basis for the new WDR Symphony Orchestra . From then on, Hermann Hagestedt was responsible for the light music, who at that time had his own orchestra, which he paid for out of his own pocket. Thanks to their growing popularity, the musicians were given permanent employment contracts on September 1, 1947. This date marks the founding of the WDR Funkhausorchester Köln.

Early years

After a few years in makeshift concert halls in Cologne , which was destroyed by the war , the WDR Funkhausorchester was able to use the large broadcasting hall of the new Cologne Funkhaus on Wallrafplatz from 1950 , which was officially inaugurated in 1952. This is where the orchestra is still based today. In the meantime the orchestra had grown to 53 people, including some members of the Leo Eysoldt Orchestra. The quality had also increased: Many music greats worked as guest conductors with the WDR Funkhausorchester, for example Robert Stolz , Werner Eisbrenner , Nico Dostal , Franz Grothe , Michael Jary , Friedrich Schröder and Werner Egk , to name just a few. The recordings made by Hermann Hagestedt traded under the name "Orchester Hermann Hagestedt". From 1949 to 1965 Franz Marszalek was in charge of the operetta , who made around 70 complete recordings, countless cross-cuts and individual titles in first-class casts of the time. In addition, Marszalek devoted himself to upscale light music.

1960s, 1970s and 1980s

In the 1970s, the Funkhausorchester was merged with the “WDR Dance and Entertainment Orchestra” for a short time. This “Great Entertainment Orchestra of the WDR” played around 150 productions for the WDR with a cast of around 80 people, mostly under the direction of Heinz Geese . However, it was not viewed as an independent ensemble, they only worked together for the productions.

The changes in pop music also changed the demands on the WDR orchestra. The Funkhausorchester grew again and took over the violins of the entertainment orchestra from which the WDR Big Band was formed.

1990s and 2000s

In the 1997/1998 season, the Viennese-born Helmuth Froschauer took over the position of chief conductor, initially for a year alongside his position as director of the radio choir . He remained chief conductor until 2003. Because of his special merits, he was later made an honorary conductor. Helmuth Froschauer was inherited as chief conductor by Michail Jurowski, who carried out the activity until 2008. From the 2010/2011 season to the 2012/2013 season, Niklas Willén chaired the WDR Funkhausorchester.


Chief conductor

Chief Conductor: Wayne Marshall (since September 1, 2014)

Honorary conductor

The honorary conductor until his death in August 2019 was Helmuth Froschauer , who had been associated with WDR since 1992. He was Chief Conductor for six years from 1997 to 2003, he was appointed honorary conductor of the WDR radio station Orchestra Cologne followed in July 2003. In addition, Helmut Froschauer 2006 for his recording of Offenbach operetta Coscoletto with the Prize of the German Record Critics' Award.

Froschauer had been with Westdeutscher Rundfunk since 1992 , first as choir director of the WDR radio choir , and since 1997/1998 as chief conductor of the WDR radio house orchestra in Cologne. Froschauer received his musical education from the Vienna Boys' Choir and while studying piano, horn, composition and conducting at the Vienna Music Academy (with Hans Swarowsky ).

In recognition of his special merits, he was appointed honorary conductor of the orchestra.

First guest conductor

Enrico Delamboye has been principal guest conductor of the WDR Funkhausorchester since the 2018/19 season .

Conductor since 1947


The WDR Funkhausorchester publishes numerous concert recordings and studio productions every year. The following is an overview from 1988:

year CD recording
1988: The Tsar can be photographed , opera by Kurt Weill
1989: Don Juan and Faust , musical drama by Albert Lortzing

I sing my most beautiful song, song potpourri by Hermann Prey
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny , opera by Kurt Weill

1990: Spa concert in Karlsbad , potpourri by Dostal / Dvořák / Fučík / Labitzky / Lehár / Robert Manzer / Sabathil / Seifert / Smetana

Undine , opera by Albert Lortzing
Der Silbersee , music theater by Kurt Weill

1991: Schwarzer Peter , fairy tale opera by Norbert Schultze
1992: The Original Motion Picture Scores, selected works by Franz Grothe

The horse trade , operetta by Kurt Weill

1993: The Original Motion Picture Scores, selected works by Georg Haentzschel

You never go so completely ... - Die Trude Herr Revue
The Seven Deadly Sins - Mahagonny, ballet and song play by Kurt Weill
The night camp in Granada , opera by Conradin Kreutzer

1994: The luring flame, Singspiel by Eduard Künneke

Gold & Silver, waltz potpourri by Franz Lehár
The cold heart , opera by Norbert Schultze

1995: The Diseuse by Dora Dorette

The Faschingsfee , operetta by Emmerich Kálmán
Kurt Weill on Broadway; Musical cross-section by Kurt Weill

1996: L'Arlésienne , musical drama by Georges Bizet

News from the day opera by Paul Hindemith
male choirs, choir potpourri by Franz Schubert
Käpt'n Bay-Bay, musical by Norbert Schultze
Die lustigen Nibelungen , burlesque opera by Oscar Straus
Franz Hawlata - Young Voices of the Opera, song potpourri by Bruch / Cornelius / by Flotow / Lortzing / Schubert / von Weber

1997: Das Dreimäderlhaus , Singspiel about Franz Schubert by Heinrich Berté

Music for Clarinet, selected works for clarinet, soloist: Lajos Duda's
The Original Motion Picture Scores, selected works by Theo Mackeben

1998: Concerto for piano four hands and orchestra by Franz Joseph Fröhlich and Leopold Koželuh

Missa solemnis by Friedrich Kiel

1999: Pay attention to the vintage, song cycle by Gerhard Jussenhoven

The toy box, selected Werek by Claude Debussy / Francis Poulenc
The Vampyr , opera by Heinrich Marschner

2000: Whenever the day slowly falls, selected works by Werner Bochmann

Marienbader Elegies, selected works by František Drdla / Joseph Hellmesberger / August Labitzky / Bedřich Smetana / Louis Spohr
The Original Motion Picture Scores, selected works by Walter Jurmann
Liebessehnsucht, waltz melodies by Franz Lehár
The Merry Widow , operetta by Franz Lehár
The Trumpeter of Säckingen, Opera by Victor Ernst Nessler
Nicolai, potpourri of selected works by Otto Nicolai
Der Stern von Bethlehem , Christmas cantata by Joseph Gabriel Rheinberger
Schreker, potpourri of selected works by Franz Schreker

2001: Mephisto - opera scenes by Hector Berlioz / Arrigo Boito / Charles Gounod / Giacomo Meyerbeer / Modest Mussorgsky / Robert Schumann / Louis Spohr

Concert for young people, selected works by Leonard Bernstein
Christmas music, selected works by Max Bruch
A Midsummer Night's Dream , incidental music by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
Jacques Offenbach Festival
Intersections by Lalo Schifrin

2002: Classical Horn Concertos, soloist Andrew Joy, music by Luigi Cherubini / Franz Danzi / Joseph Haydn / Giovanni Punto / Antonio Rosett

Works for Violin and Orchestra, selected works by Édouard Lalo
Der Dung Käfer, family concert by Mark Lothar and Andreas Tarkmann
Rosamunde incidental music by Franz Schubert
Missa, selected works by Robert Schumann / Carl Maria von Weber

2003: The Merry Wives of Windsor , opera by Otto Nicolai

20th Century Portraits, selected works by Franz Schreker

2004: Blue Tango, tango music by Leroy Anderson

Ernst Fischer Rhapsody, selected works by Ernst Fischer
The Ascension of Jesus Christ, oratorio by Albert Lortzing
Who is lonely ..., work for choir and orchestra by Alfred Uhl

2005: Selected works by Benjamin Bilse and Friedrich von Flotow

Alessandro Stradella , opera by Friedrich von Flotow
Coscoletto, complete opera recording by Jacques Offenbach
Cello Concertos by Jacques Offenbach
Concertos for Violin and Orchestra II, B minor op. 7 & IV D minor or op. By Niccolò Paganini
Concertos for violin and Orchestra I in E flat major, op 6 & III in D minor or op. By Niccolo Paganini

2006: Christmas International, selected works by Michael Praetorius / Hector Berlioz / Niels Wilhelm Gade / Sigfrid Karg-Elert / Rudolf Mauersberger / Ralph Vaughan Williams

Das Hexenlied, melodrama by Max von Schillings
Das Fest auf Solhaug, incidental music by Hugo Wolf for Henrik Ibsen's stage work

2007: Viennese women, operetta by Franz Lehár
2008: Evening songs, song cycle by Johannes Brahms / Engelbert Humperdinck / Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart / Franz Schubert

Music by the Wiener Hofkapelle, selected works by Joseph von Eybler / Johann Joseph Fux / Haydn / Johann von Herbeck / Mozart / Benedikt Randhartinger / Antonio Salieri / Schubert
Symphonic Shades, in-house production by Chris Hülsbeck
Romanze - Chen Reiss & Andy Miles , piano duo, selected works by Franz Lachner / Mozart / Schubert / Louis Spohr
Symphonica, selected Werek for saxophone, soloist: Joe Lovano
Die Banditen , Opera Bouffa by Jacques Offenbach
Drammatica by Yōko Shimomura

2009: Sing !, Liederpotpourri by Fay Claassen

Wolfgang Manz, pianist, selected works for piano by Claude Debussy / Paul Hindemith / Friedrich Radermacher
Operetta Hot & Romantic, operetta melodies by Emmerich Kálmán
Aga Mikolaj sings Richard Strauss & Mozart
Pique Dame , operetta by Franz von Suppè
The Echo of Japan, selected works by Kaoru Wada

2010: Russalka , opera by Alexander Dargomyschski

Lucrecia Borgia , opera by Gaetano Donizetti
Pillars of the Earth , radio play music by Ken Follett
Symphonic Fantasies, selected works by Hiroki Kikuta / Yasunori Mitsuda / Yoko Shimomura / Nobuo Uematsu / Jonne Valtonen
The beggar from Cologne Cathedral (DVD / silent film), Pierre Oser

2011: The Gates of the World , radio play music by Ken Follett

Romantic violin concertos, selected works by Hans Pfitzner and Siegfried Wagner
Symphonic Odysseys, works by Nobuo Uematsu : Final Fantasy, The last Story u. a.
The funny Nibelungs , operetta by Oscar Straus
The brave soldier , operetta by Oscar Straus
Bo Skovhus: Night of Dreams, orchestral songs by Louis Spohr , Ludwig van Beethoven , Franz Schubert , Hugo Wolf
The four piano concertos, Louis Ferdinand Hérold
The woman of the intaphernes: The Birthday of the Infanta, Symphony in A minor, op. 1, 5 songs for voice and orchestra a. a. Franz Schreker
Le Petit Prince, Frédéric Talgron, music for the TV series of the same name

2012: Gee's Bend, guitar concerts of the 20th / 21st centuries Century, works by Elmer Bernstein , Malcolm Arnold a . a.

The Pharaoh's Wife (DVD / silent film), Eduard Künneke
il convegno, works by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , Gioachino Rossini , Amilcare Ponchielli
Symphonic Odysseys, works by Nobuo Uematsu
The woman one yearns for , silent film music
The Beyond, Film music by Martin Batchelar
Dat are real Cologne tones, sounding Cologne city history Part 1
From head to toe - a homage to Marlene Dietrich with Pe Werner , Götz Alsmann and Tim Fischer

2013: Tor Aulin, Master olof, Swedish dances

Dat sin real Cologne tones, sounding Cologne city history part 2

2014: Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss , operetta in three acts

Turrican Soundtrack Anthology, video game music

2015: Paroli von Leo Fall , Komische Oper

Pe Werner : Best Of - From A to Pe

2016: The Student Prince by Sigmund Romberg , operetta based on the play Alt-Heidelberg by Wilhelm Meyer-Förster

The Bajadere by Emmerich Kálmán , operetta in three acts

2017: Symphonic Jazz with Andy Miles

Little Brother Fine by Leo Fall , Singspiel
Daniel Behle : Nostalgia

2018: The Flying Dutchman - The Musical

Raphaela Gromes : Homage to Rossini
Marialy Pacheco : Danzón Cubano

In addition, from 1993 onwards, numerous recordings of jazz and pop songs with the violins of the Cologne Radio Orchestra were made under the arranger Hagen Galatis , in collaboration with WDR music editor Wolfgang Kischka and the radio station WDR 4 . These sound carriers were played in various WDR programs, but especially in the program Musik zum Träume on WDR 4. The records and CDs in this series were released under the title Fantasy Strings .

Web links

Commons : WDR Funkhausorchester Cologne  - Collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wayne Marshall: Chief Conductor ( Memento from August 18, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), WDR from March 12, 2013
  2. Chief Conductor Wayne Marshall. June 6, 2016, accessed August 14, 2019 .
  3. ^ First guest conductor Enrico Delamboye. July 16, 2018, accessed August 14, 2019 .