Das Neue Orchester (= DNO) is a name and a programme. It derives its name from a musical essay "Das Neueröffnete Orchestre" – The Newly Opened Orchestra – written by the then widely known musical writer Johann Matheson, published in 1713 as an orchestra manual.
The DNO was founded in 1988 by Christoph Spering and concentrates on performing well known and wrongfully forgotten masterpieces of the 18th and 19th centuries with their original sound; i.e. on instruments from the period of creation of these works. Hence, the orchestra has built up a reputation as an ensemble specialized in baroque music, as you can hear it today; but moreover DNO was the first orchestra in Germany to apply the principles of historic fidelity also to music from the romantic period. Here the musicians could benefit from the experiences made as specialized performers of music from the baroque and classical era on period instruments.
To perform its repertoire, the orchestra gathers in ever changing casts with the instruments of the corresponding periods, and is thus able to follow the composer's indications as strictly as possible. The performing conditions of every composer are adhered to very closely by the musicians. They take into account the evolution and manufacturing of the period instruments which took place over several hundred years. The musicians take for granted to be informed on the composing and performing conditions of every single work and to take into account several hundred years of evolution in the manufacture of musical instruments.
The instruments used in Western music evolved constantly from generation to generation as have the playing techniques and sound. When DNO performs baroque music on period instruments, the chords are made out of catgut instead of metal, the standard pitch is 25 Hertz lower (10 Hertz lower with classical & romantic music) than in a modern orchestra. The form of bows and fingerboards allow the musicians to play virtuoso baroque passages. Moreover the wind instruments only have finger holes and no keys. Bach, for example, used different instruments than his French colleagues; by the time of Mozart and L.v. Beethoven mainly the winds had undergone considerable changes. Yet other technical inventions and modifications made it possible for Schumann and Johannes Brahms to write for a novel orchestra, which has been completely unknown.
A concert at the Cologne concert hall Kölner Philharmonie with Schubert's first Symphonies and his unknown Singspiel Fernando in 1990 earned the ensemble DNO a recording contract with the French label Opus 111, an important label operating world-wide with an innovative concept. Thus were recorded Mozart's Händel arrangements, the Lied von der Glocke by Romberg, J.S. Bach's St. Matthew's Passion (BWV 244), Felix Mendelssohn's Lobgesang Symphony and his Paulus, symphonies and operas by Schubert and works by Le Sueur, Cherubini, L.v. Beethoven, Haydn, Chopin, Rossini, and Schumann. In cooperation with the Chorus Musicus Köln, DNO concentrated on almost forgotten oratorios as for example Columbus by Bach's grandson Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach, Salieri's Requiem or L.v. Beethoven's Christ on the Mount of Olives.
The "Diapason d'Or" (Golden tuning fork), one of Europe's most important disk prizes, has been awarded several times to recordings of DNO.
DNO regularly performs at festivals all over Europe. For instance in Germany at the Dresdner Musikfestspiele and the Göttinger Händelfestspiele, in France at the renowned festivals of Picardie, Ambronay, Lourdes, Fontevraud, Besançon, Beaune and Orne, as well as at the theatres of Paris Champs Elysées, Vichy, Caen, Metz and Lille. After acclaimed debuts, DNO has been invited several times to Europe's leading concert halls such as Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Palau de la Música in Barcelona, Konzerthaus in Vienna and the Kölner Philharmonie in Cologne.