Vienna Boys’ Choir
The Vienna Boys’ Choir – a concert in MuTh (Photo: Lukas Beck)
In 1498 – over half a millennium ago – Emperor Maximilian I relocated his court and court musicians from Innsbruck to Vienna. He also decreed that the court musicians should include six boy choristers. In so doing, he laid the foundations for the Wiener Hofmusikkapelle (a musical ensemble) and, in turn, the Vienna Boys’ Choir.
Musicians who performed with the court’s boy singers include Heinrich Isaac, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, Johann Joseph Fux, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Antonio Caldara, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Antonio Salieri and Anton Bruckner. Franz Schubert was one of the boy singers, and both Joseph Haydn and his brother Michael sang in the choir as students.
Today there are around 100 choristers in the Vienna Boys’ Choir, which is organised into four individual choirs for concert purposes. Together these four choirs give around 300 concerts every year, performing around the world to a combined audience of around half a million people. Each choir spends between nine and eleven weeks of the school year on tour. Every year the choristers travel to North America, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, as well as to a number of countries in Europe. Every three to five years there are concert tours to Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. They also sing at the Wiener Staatsoper, the Vienna Volksoper, and at the Salzburg Festival. Since 1926 the Vienna Boys’ Choir has undertaken over 1,000 tours to 97 different countries, performing over 28,000 concerts in the process. Together with the Wiener Staatsoper Men’s Choir and members of the Vienna Philharmonic, the Vienna Boys’ Choir still uphold one of the imperial traditions: singing at regular services held in the Vienna Hofburg Chapel.
Their repertoire ranges from the Middle Ages to the present day, taking in classical choral music, contemporary World Music, music from the pop charts, and music from the world of film. The Choir also performs its own productions of children’s opera. These performances are particularly important aspects of their work, and two or three such productions are staged at MuTh each year. The Vienna Boys’ Choir can also be seen at MuTh in their “Friday Afternoons” performances, as well as their Christmas “Gute Hirten” (Good Shepherds) concerts.
Professor Gerald Wirth is Artistic Director and President of the Vienna Boys’ Choir.