Vienna Boys' Choir

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Vienna Boys' Choir
Vienna Boys' Choir
Seat: AustriaAustria Vienna
Founding: 1498
Genus: Boys' choir
Founder: Maximilian I .; George of Slatkonia
Head : Gerald Wirth
Voices : approx. 100 ( SA )
Website :

The Vienna Boys 'Choir is a world-famous boys' choir and an institution of Viennese musical life, consisting of a total of four individual choirs .


The choir boys are in the tradition of the court choir boys (Hofcapell-Singknaben) , which were founded on June 30, 1498 by the German king and later Emperor Maximilian I with the transfer of the court from Innsbruck to Vienna. The nucleus were the much older Wilten Boys' Choir. Maximilian took a few of them to Vienna. They were under the direction of the former cantor Georg von Slatkonia , who was also the director of the Vienna court orchestra from this point on . The task of the choir, to which Maximilian ordered six boys to belong and which was later expanded to 14 to 20 boys, was the musical arrangement of the Holy Mass . Until 1918 the court band played exclusively for the court, at trade fairs, private parties and on state events. The Viennese court music band was dissolved in 1920, but the then rector Josef Schnitt advocated the continuation of the tradition. The Vienna Boys' Choir was officially founded as an association in 1924 and has expanded into a professional music company to this day.

In 1963 the Association of the Vienna Boys' Choir was awarded the Karl Renner Prize together with other groups .

In contrast to Franz Schubert, Mozart was not a Vienna Boys' Choir, but made music with the choir, as did numerous other recent artists, such as Bruno Walter , Wilhelm Furtwängler , Herbert von Karajan , Riccardo Muti , Zubin Mehta , Nikolaus Harnoncourt , Kent Nagano , Pierre Boulez , Seiji Ozawa and Mariss Jansons .

Today the elite boys' choirs, which are among the most renowned and well-known choirs in the world, are composed primarily of Austrians, but also of children from other European and non-European nations. The Vienna Boys' Choir give around 300 concerts every year around the world .

In addition to the traditional services in the Vienna Hofburg Chapel , the Vienna Boys' Choir, who for the most part finance themselves through performances and recordings, tour concerts several times a year , often financed by sponsors, but also by funding from the Republic of Austria and the City of Vienna become. The annual visits by the Vienna Boys' Choir have a long tradition in the USA and Japan, where they are particularly popular. They also travel regularly to the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea, the Arab region as well as Australia, South America and European countries. There are less frequent tours to South Africa and Oceania. The Vienna Boys' Choir is one of the most important cultural institutions in Austria. Like to be called “Austria's youngest ambassador” by politicians, they are Austria's figureheads in the world.


Video of the Vienna Boys' Choir

Unlike most other boys 'choirs, the Vienna Boys' Choir is not made up of full voices with soprano, alto, tenor and bass, but has only soprano and alto voices. The chorus Viennensis or the choral schola of the Vienna Hofburgkapelle (consisting exclusively of former Vienna Boys' Choir) supplements the tenor and bass voices in concerts and recordings.

Today there are around 100 Vienna Boys' Choir, divided into four choirs. The choirs are named after the Austrian composers Bruckner , Haydn , Mozart and Schubert . However, these terms are only used internally; externally they always appear as Die Wiener Sängerknaben . The choir always appears internationally under the name in the respective national language (e.g. in English as Vienna Boys' Choir or in Spanish as Niños Cantores de Viena ). Each choir has 24 members between the ages of 10 and 14. Each of the four choirs studies their repertoire independently of the others.

Chorus Viennensis

In 1952 the Chorus Viennensis was founded, a male choir in which only former Vienna Boys 'Choir sing and which often works with the Vienna Boys' Choir. Michael Schneider has been artistic director since 2018. In addition to the association meetings, the Vienna Boys 'Choir also holds official and unofficial meetings of the former Vienna Boys' Choir.

Chorus Juventus

The chorus Juventus , a full-part choir that rehearses as part of school lessons, consists of the students from the upper secondary school. The choir has already performed in the Vienna City Hall and at the Long Church Night. The choir director and composer Raoul Gehringer has looked after the choir since the choir was founded in 2010, Norbert Brandauer from 2013 to 2017 and Michael Grohotolsky since September 2017.

The main difference between the choir and a conventional school choir is its self-imposed claim: In the context of the Vienna Boys' Choir, it does not want to be satisfied with average performance. There are two hours of rehearsals three times a week, plus two hours of individual voice training for each student. In addition to the public concerts, there are also in-house class evenings where the members demonstrate their progress in solo lectures.

The choir got its name in the school year 2012/13. This year the new choir clothing was also determined. Depending on the concert, the choir appears in white or in colorful polo shirts with the logo of the Vienna Boys' Choir on the left side of the chest, framed by the words “Chorus Juventus”.


Legally, the Vienna Boys' Choir is a non-profit, private association of around 100 members. Membership in the association is only open to former Vienna Boys' Choir. The association members elect the board of directors and the president. Eugen Jesser was president of the Vienna Boys' Choir from 2001 to 2008, Walter Nettig held this office from June 2008 and Gerald Wirth since September 2013 . The president represents the association, together with the first or second vice-president, in all internal and external matters: the first vice-president is Arthur Trainacher, the second vice-president is Wolfgang Nowak.

Subordinate to the club management are the administrative director, the artistic director, who in turn heads all choir directors (Kapellmeisters), and the pedagogical director, who is also the school director of the grammar school. There is also a boarding school director for the boarding school and a director for the elementary school (Elisabeth Ondraschek). Gerald Wirth, who was a Vienna Boys 'Choir himself as a child, has been the artistic director of the Vienna Boys' Choir since 2001. From 2003 to 2017, Markus Blauensteiner was the head of the grammar school (since January 2013 Blauensteiner has also been an honorary member of the Vienna Boys' Choir). With the school year 2017/18, Hans-Christian Granaas took over the management of the grammar school. The administrative management is currently headed by Thomas Pototschnig and Michael Heider.


Vienna Boys' Choir in “gala uniform” on the gallery in front of the organ during a performance in the Musikverein in Vienna

The Vienna Boys' Choir are unmistakable through their sailor suit , which has been the official choir clothing since 1924. In photos from the Austro-Hungarian period, the boys are still shown in military uniforms and with sabers. The reason for appearing in sailor uniforms is that at the beginning of the 20th century it was customary in middle-class families to dress children in sailor suits. The uniform is available in two versions: the blue uniform is used when traveling, at official press appointments and for appearances in sacred venues, the white, particularly festive sailor suit, also known as the gala uniform, for evening performances in concert halls with a classic program - for example together with the Vienna Philharmonic , the Vienna Symphony or other large orchestras in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein building or in the Vienna Konzerthaus .

Both uniforms show the coat of arms of the Republic of Austria on the left side of the chest (black eagle with red-white-red shield on a white background). The Vienna Boys' Choir has been wearing the coat of arms since 1961, which can be traced back to a suggestion by Walt Disney . The uniforms are made in the in-house tailor shop. The caps come from the Viennese cap factory Marie Slama & Sohn , the tailoring adds the cap ribbon and cockade.

At a concert at the Spanish Riding School on October 2, 2015, the Vienna Boys' Choir performed in the second part of the concert for the first time in 97 years in the midnight blue historical kuk cadet uniform. These uniforms were tailored based on historical models.

School and boarding school

The active Vienna Boys' Choir live in a boarding school, even if they live in Vienna. They attend their own private Realgymnasium with Latin as an optional subject. In the 2000/2001 school year he was granted public rights; before that, external exams had to be taken every six months at the GRG Albertgasse 18–22. Each choir spends four weeks in the summer in Sekirn in Carinthia, where the Boys' Choir has a holiday home on Lake Wörthersee.

The Association of the Vienna Boys' Choir runs a kindergarten in cooperation with the municipality of Vienna and operates its own elementary school, which is also accessible to girls. In order to be accepted into one of the four choirs and into the in-house grammar school as active Vienna Boys 'Choir, the children must attend the Vienna Boys' Choir Primary School at least one year before they are accepted, i.e. when they are ten years old in the 4th grade. However, there are exceptions for particularly talented candidates. In contrast to the other educational institutions of the choir, the lower level grammar school can only be attended by the active Vienna Boys' Choir.

In addition to school education, each choir completes at least one concert tour of several months each year, on which the boys are accompanied by a conductor, two educators and a tour manager. There are no school lessons during the tours. In order to compensate for these times, the lessons are concentrated in small groups. A special focus is on the daily two-hour rehearsal work with the respective choir members. The boys receive a solid musical education at a young age.

Since 2010, the Boys 'Choir has also offered an upper-level grammar school with a focus on vocal music, which is open to all applicants (not just former Vienna Boys' Choir). The upper level of the Vienna Boys' Choir is also housed in the Augartenpalais; it is a school experiment. The curriculum has been coordinated with the University of Music Vienna and the Mozarteum Salzburg and is intended to prepare students for university studies in music. The Vienna Boys' Choir thus offers continuous training from kindergarten to high school graduation.

As part of a performance exchange agreement, the Republic of Austria assumes the costs for the teaching staff of the private grammar school and upper secondary school in return for state appearances.


Palais Augarten

Since 1948, the choir's headquarters and boarding school have been in the Palais in Vienna's Augarten , the former personal hunting ground of the Austrian ruling family in what is now the second district of Vienna, which was partially opened to the public in 1775 by Emperor Josef II. The Realgymnasium, the four rehearsal rooms for the choirs and a scenic rehearsal room are located here. There is also a spacious park, a swimming pool, soccer fields, a volleyball court, a basketball court and a gym. The Palais Augarten also houses the boarding school and the boys' leisure rooms . The administrative and artistic management is also housed in the Palais Augarten, as is the in-house costume and uniform tailoring.

In the middle wing of the house there are representative rooms (the salon ) for house concerts and the grand staircase known from many photos and films of the boys. High state guests are often received in the faithful rooms. The boys' private rooms and leisure rooms, the boarding school kitchen, the dining room and the sports rooms are located in a new building, which is connected to the palace via a passage.

The elementary school and kindergarten of the Vienna Boys 'Choir are housed in a separate building in the park area of ​​the Vienna Boys' Choir (Josefstöckl) .

At the Augartenspitz , which is adjacent to the park area of ​​the choir, the concert hall " MuTh " (abbreviated for music and theater) for 400 visitors was built for the choir boys , which can be used for rehearsals and performances by the children. It opened on December 9, 2012 with a gala concert with the participation of the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst . The concert hall was financed by the general sponsor of the Vienna Boys' Choir POK Pühringer Privatstiftung .

There was some resistance from local residents and activists to the concert hall. A group of protesters held the property for months. The Augarten, one of the oldest Baroque parks in Europe and one of the largest recreational areas in Vienna, belongs to the Republic of Austria and is largely freely accessible to the population. The protesters feared that the Augarten would be taken over by the Vienna Boys' Choir. The choir areas are rented by the Vienna Boys' Choir and are not open to the public.

Since the end of the 1950s, the Boys' Choir has owned a lake plot on Lake Wörthersee in Sekirn , which is mainly used in summer . In July 2019, plans were announced to make the area accessible to the public, for example as part of cultural events.

Allegations of abuse

In March 2010, two former choir boys raised allegations in the press of sexual or violent assaults in the 1960s and 1980s. The Vienna Boys' Choir promised to deal thoroughly with the allegations and set up a hotline for those affected. A total of 21 cases became known within one year, mostly from the 1940s to 1970s. Most of these concerned incidents that had happened between boys. There were no criminal consequences. The parents 'association expressed its confidence in the boys' choir and praised the professional handling of the allegations. The hotline, whose work is supported by independent professionals and experts, will remain in place as a permanent facility.

Former Vienna Boys 'Choir (and Court Boys' Choir)

Former presidents, conductors, directors and boards of directors

Chart placements


year title Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
1965 Merry Christmas everywhere DE19 (2 weeks)
2002 Vienna Boys Choir Goes Pop - AT35 (11 weeks)
2003 Goes Christmas - AT63 (2 weeks)
2014 Silent Night Holy Night - AT58 (1 week)
2015 Merry Christmas - AT12 (6 weeks)
Christmas * Christmas - AT56 (2 weeks)
phil Blech Wien / Piotr Beczala / Vienna Boys' Choir / Chorus Viennensis
2018 Strauss For Ever - AT44 (1 week)
with Vienna Boys Choir

gray hatching : no chart data available for this year


year Title
Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, album , rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
DE DE AT ATTemplate: chart table / maintenance / charts non-existent
1963 Silent Night Holy Night - AT33 (5 weeks)
Chart entry only in 2012
2007 We are Europe - AT49 (2 weeks)

gray hatching : no chart data available for this year


  • R. Holzer, J. Schnitt: The Vienna Boys' Choir . 1953
  • FJ Grobauer: The nightingales from the Vienna Castle Chapel . 1954
  • A. Witeschnik: The Vienna Boys' Choir . Verlag Anton Pustet, Salzburg 1968 (with accompanying single record: Das Heidenröslein , Let yourselves be told )
  • F. Endler: The Vienna Boys' Choir . 1974
  • Lukas Beck, Tina Breckwoldt: Vienna Boys' Choir . NP-Buchverlag, St. Pölten 2004, ISBN 3-85326-335-6 .
  • Elisabeth Th. Hilscher-Fritz: Vienna Boys' Choir. In: Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon . Online edition, Vienna 2002 ff., ISBN 3-7001-3077-5 ; Print edition: Volume 5, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna 2006, ISBN 3-7001-3067-8 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Founding of the Vienna Boys' Choir (June 30, 1498). ( Memento from March 29, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) The calendar sheet in Bavaria
  2. Vienna City Hall Correspondence , December 13, 1963, sheet 2993
  3. ^ Announcement on the election of the new president ( Memento of October 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 101 kB)
  4. Guest book entry from December 10, 2015 ( Memento from December 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  5. ^ The Vienna Boys' Choir opened "Muth" . In: Wiener Zeitung , December 10, 2012; Retrieved December 29, 2012.
  6. Summer residence could become a lido, July 20, 2019, accessed July 20, 2019.
  7. ^ Victims accuse: allegations of abuse also with the Vienna Boys' Choir
  8. Statement of the parents' association (PDF, 38 kB)
  9. Information on the hotline on the website of the Vienna Boys' Choir
  10. a b Chart sources: DE AT