As long ago as 1948, a WDR house chamber orchestra was in the planning. An initial core of strings - the "Gurlenich Quartett Köln" - was regularly supplemented by soloists and conductors from North Rhine-Westphalia and the whole of West Germany. In addition to the staging of joint concerts, the ensemble made recordings, mostly of popular classical and early music chamber pieces, but also including the occasional contemporary work. An initial move towards using period instruments came about through a joint project with the English Deller Consort. As a result the repertoire expanded to include Renaissance music.
The Collegium Musicum des Westdeutscher Rundfunk (= CM-WDR) also performed frequently with well-known choirs. As well as working with the Aachener Domchor, the Regensburger Domspatzen, the Tölzer Knabenchor and Stuttgart's Hymnus-Chorknaben, the ensemble forged a uniquely varied working relationship with the Windsbacher Knabenchor and the then incumbent director Hans Thamm.
At one time Westdeutscher Rundfunk's Collegium Musicum and the somewhat younger Collegium Aureum were both under the direction of the permanent concertmaster Franzjosef Maier. Over the years, famous musicians - Gustav Leonhardt, Wilhelm Krumbach, Franz Lehrndorfer and the Kuijken brothers - have often enhanced the quality of the orchestra. Regular guest appearances have also been made by singers Elly Ameling, Elisabeth Speiser, Hanna Schwarz, Theo Altmeyer, Siegmund Nimsgern and Barry McDaniel, whilst Kurt Thomas, Hermann Schroeder, Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden, not to mention the Windsbacher Knabenchor’s Hans Thamm and Karl-Friedrich Beringer, are just some of those who have directed joint choral/orchestral projects.