The Vienna Boys’ Choir

The Vienna Boys’ Choir can look back over centuries of history. While the earliest reference to a boys’ choir in the Vienna Hofburg Chapel dates from 1296, the official year of founding is 1498, when Emperor Maximilian I moved his court to Vienna. Up until 1918, the Choir, in which such composers as Joseph Haydn and Franz Schubert were trained, sang exclusively for the Imperial Court; the ensemble subsequently started performing for the general public. Since 1926, more than 2,500 Choirboys have undertaken approximately 1,000 tours in 98 countries. Today, the Vienna Boys’ Choir is organized as a private association. Comprising about 100 active members, they are divided into four concert choirs that each spends 9 to 11 weeks of the school year on tour. Almost 300 performances take place annually before nearly half a million listeners. The Boys’ Choir maintains a close relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic, in whose New Year Concerts they also participate, as they did most recently in 2016 under Mariss Jansons. They have also performed with Christian Arming, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, and Simone Young. The Choir’s repertoire ranges from the Middle Ages to the present and from motet to folk song and world music. 26 films and 17 TV documentaries covering the history and work of the Vienna Boys’ Choir have been made. The members of the Choir are recruited from a group of about 300 children and young people who are students at the Vienna Boys’ Choir’s own school. About one quarter goes on to embark on artistic careers: examples include the opera singers Max Emanuel Cenčić, Herbert Lippert, and Georg Nigl and the conductors Helmuth Froschauer, Erwin Ortner, Peter Schneider, and Gerald Wirth, all of whom were first trained as members of the Boys’ Choir.

5 February 2019