The WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne (WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln) is a German orchestra based in Cologne. In Cologne, the orchestra primarily performs concerts at the WDR Funkhaus Wallrafplatz and at the Kölner Philharmonie. The orchestra is particularly known for its performances of 20th-century and contemporary music. It has commissioned and premiered works from such composers as Luciano Berio, Hans Werner Henze, Mauricio Kagel, Krzysztof Penderecki, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Bernd Alois Zimmermann.
The orchestra was founded in 1947 by Allied occupation authorities after World War II, as the orchestra of Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk (NWDR; Northwest German Radio), with the name Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester (Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra). For the first part of its history, the orchestra did not have a principal conductor, but worked with guest conductors. Christoph von Dohnányi was the first conductor to serve as the orchestra's principal conductor, from 1964 to 1969.
In the 1990s, the orchestra changed its name to the WDR Sinfonieorchester (WDR Symphony Orchestra). The orchestra's current principal conductor is Jukka-Pekka Saraste, who began his tenure with the 2010-2011 season. In December 2017, the orchestra announced that Saraste is to stand down from the post at the end of the 2018-2019 season.