In 1981, Frans Brüggen founded the Orchestra of the 18th Century, consisting of some 60 members from 22 different countries. Three or four times a year the orchestra ensembles to go on tour. The musicians, who are all specialists in 18th and early 19th century music, play on period instruments, or on contemporary copies thereof, as it is their intention to try to achieve the most authentic possible performance of th eclassical masterpieces by Haydn, Mozart, L.v. Beethoven and other 18th and 19th century composers.
Frans Brüggen's wide range repertoire with this orchestra on the Philips' label also includes works by Purcell, J.S. Bach & Rameau; many of these recordings have already received international awards. In its structure and size, the Orchestra of the 18th Century is most resembles the luxurious "Classical" orchestras of the period as we know them from London, Paris and Vienna.
At the time of its foundation, the orchestra was supported by friends throughout the world, while sponsoring from the Prince Bernhard Foundation and subsidies from the Dutch Government guaranteed its continuation. From 1983 to 1988 the orchestra was sponsored by IBM Europe. From 1989 till 1997 the TRN Group Holland took over the sponsorship. In 1992 the TRN Group became Deloitte & Touche, which continued sponsorship until 1997. Since January of 1998, VSB Foundation has been supporting the orchestra.