The Danish National Chamber Orchestra (Danish: Danmarks Underholdningsorkester) is a Danish chamber orchestra which existed under the auspices of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation from 1939 to 2014. Since 2015, the orchestra exists under private funding.
The roots of the orchestra date back to 1927, with the formation of an orchestra to perform light music at the Hotel Phoenix by Louis Preil. By 1933, this ensemble, Louis Preils Danseorkester (Louis Preil's Dance Orchestra), had numbered 22 musicians and attained great popularity in Denmark, via radio transmissions. In 1939, DR then formally established the DR Underholdningsorkester (literal translation: Danish Radio Entertainment Orchestra) as a house orchestra that focused on lighter, popular repertoire. Teddy Petersen took over direction of the ensemble in 1943.
The repertoire of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra included classical repertoire such as Mozart, to modern musicals and more recently, collaborations with rock groups. During the tenure of chief conductor Ádám Fischer, which began in 1999, the orchestra made a number of commercial recordings of symphonies and operas by Mozart. As of 2014, the orchestra numbered 42 players.
In September 2014, DR announced the disbanding of the orchestra effective 1 January 2015, citing budget cutbacks. Protests at the decision resulted, including objections to the haste of the decision by the DR board of directors, and that the Minister of Culture, Marianne Jelved, had authorised the dismantling before the orchestra had the opportunity to present a savings plan to allow it to continue. The orchestra gave its final performance as a DR ensemble on 21 November 2014, with a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No 9.
The musicians of the orchestra then began a crowdfunding campaign to keep the orchestra in existence. Via Kickstarter, this campaign raised 1,000,000 DKK in funds from private individuals, and several Danish corporations pledged the remaining 2,000,000 DKK. Because of the rules of single-donation limits to Kickstarter, in this instance 50,000 DKK, the orchestra was required to cancel its Kickstarter account, to return those donations, and to request that donors re-submit their donations in cash by 28 February 2015.
After the disconnection of the orchestra from its affiliation with DR, the orchestra, with its new name of Danmarks Underholdningsorkester, gave its first concert as a privately funded ensemble on 1 February 2015 at the Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen.