The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, or properly, Freiburger Barockorchester, was founded in 1987 in the German city known as the unofficial "Capital of the Black Forest" by a group of students who shared an interest in playing Baroque music on authentic musical instruments. The first three years of its existence, the Freiburger Barockorchester performed without a conductor, preferring to select a musician from within its own ranks to lead its music on a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, in 1990 Thomas Hengelbrock was named joint musical director along with Gottfried von der Goltz, a situation that lasted until 1997 when Hengelbrock stepped down. His place was taken by Petra Müllejans, who leads the Freiburger Barockorchester in tandem with von der Goltz.
Freiburger Barockorchester tours all over the world and records with frequency; it utilizes distinguished guest conductors on about a fourth of its public concerts, but not on recordings. Freiburger Barockorchester contributed some of the very best recordings to be issued by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi in the waning years of its association with BMG. The group's controversial recording of the J.S. Bach Mass in B minor, led by Hengelbrock and featuring the Balthasar-Neumann-Chor, is perhaps the only recording of this work in recent memory to approach Bach's masterwork from a genuinely new perspective. Since BMG folded its classical operation in 1999, Freiburger Barockorchester has appeared on the Virgin, Naïve, Harmonia Mundi, and Carus Verlag labels.
Freiburger Barockorchester is also known for its capability in accompanying singers, such as Sandrine Piau and Angelika Kirchschlager, who appears with the group on Christmas DVD entitled Sounds for Christmas. Although it did not accompany Cecilia Bartoli on her recording Opera Proibita, Freiburger Barockorchester has accompanied Bartoli in touring with its program, with Müllejans leading the band. The Freiburger Barockorchester is a chamber group that is drawn from the inner ranks of the Freiburger Barockorchester.