“The Vienna Boys Choir is one of the oldest boys’ choirs in the world. For nearly five hundred years it has been one of the enduring symbols of Austria and Vienna”
-Austrian Tourist Office-
The Vienna Choir Boys is made up of boy sopranos and altos based in in Austria and around the world. It is one of the best known boys’ choir in the world. The choir is a private, not-for-profit organisation. There are approximately 100 choristers between the ages of ten and fourteen. The boys are divided into four touring choirs, named after Austrian composers Bruckner, Mozart, Haydn and Schubert which combined perform about 300 concerts each year before almost 500,000 people. Each group tours for about nine to eleven weeks.
The boys are aged between 10 to 14 years, and are selected to join the choir’s full time training through worldwide auditions. They have their own full-time school at the Augartenpalais, a baroque palace and former imperial hunting lodge in Vienna. Besides music , the school excels in academic subjects, sports and humanities.
The choir provides an extraordinary musical education to the choir boys who would have travelled nearly half the world by the time they spent 4 years with the choir, performing at a different continent/ country each year.
Then and now
The choir has its beginnings in 1498, when Emperor Maximilian 1 of Habsburg called the first dozen boys to the imperial court as members of the newly formed court music band. The role of the choir – numbering between 24 and 26, was to provide musical accompaniment for the church mass.
Since then the Vienna Boys Choir has been a fixed attraction in the Austrian musical life. A number of famous musicians have emerged from its ranks. Its top notch class training has produced numerous highly qualified vocalists, violinists and pianists. Amongst the list of music luminaries are, Mozart, Hadyn, Schubert and Bruckner.
With the ending of the monarchy in 1918, the choir gave up its old name and the imperial uniform (to which a sword belonged). As early as 1924, the “Vienna Boys Choir” – reformed by the rector Joseph Schnitt, with great personal zeal – gave guest performances at the world’s most famous concert halls outside of Vienna, paving the way for an international audience.
Since those days the Vienna Boys’ Choir have given concerts under nearly all the great conductors of this century: Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Herbert von Karajan, Carlos Kleiber, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti and Sir George Solti.
And, as ever, every Sunday the Vienna Boys’ Choir sing solemn mass in the Hofburg chapel of Vienna – continuing a tradition unbroken since 1498.