Windsbacher boys' choir

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Windsbacher boys' choir
Choir boys in action
Seat: Windsbach / Germany
Founding: 1946
Genus: Boys' choir
Founder: Hans Thamm
Head : Martin Lehmann
Voices : 100 (SATB)
Website :

The Windsbacher Knabenchor is a German boys' choir based in Windsbach in Middle Franconia . It stands in the tradition of the great German boys' choirs, whose tasks lie not only in their concert activities, but also in the fulfillment of liturgical tasks. These include the divine services in Windsbach and the motets in the St. Lawrence Church in Nuremberg. The choir is an institution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria .


Choir director Martin Lehmann
Choir director Martin Lehmann

Hans Thamm , former singer of the Dresden Kreuzchor , was appointed as prefect of the choir in the Evangelical Parish Orphanage in Windsbach in 1946. In addition to this activity, Hans Thamm also taught music at the Humanistic Gymnasium in Windsbach. Within a short time, under difficult material circumstances, he transformed a school and boarding school choir into an excellent boys' choir. At that time, notes, voices and scores had to be written by hand and copied by hand. The boys obtained food for the boarding school in the surrounding villages. The concerts were initially walked. The choir passed its first major test, now as the Windsbach Boys Choir , at the Ansbach Bach Week in 1948. Thamm was encouraged by both Rudolf Mauersberger and Karl Richter to persevere and continue to work on his project. Regular tape recordings by the Bavarian radio began very soon . From the fees paid for this, the choir students received a scholarship that made it possible for many parents to pay the boarding school costs.

From the mid-1950s the existence of the choir was endangered by the broken voices of most of the young choir singers. The solution was to move the choir to the St. Lawrence Church in Nuremberg in order to get more choir singers in the big city. Since this idea did not meet with approval from the regional church, the first choir was built in Windsbach in 1957 with the help of public funds. Thanks to the increased capacity, elementary school students could now also be admitted to choir preparatory classes , following the example of the Regensburger Domspatzen . The first recordings were made in 1958 under the Capella label, later renamed Cantate (Decca).

Thamm's successor Karl-Friedrich Beringer took over the direction of the choir in 1978. Under his aegis, the Windsbach boys' choir quickly developed into an internationally renowned vocal ensemble. Beringer expands the Windsbacher repertoire and collaborates with top German orchestras for its performances. In 1992, Karl-Friedrich Beringer was offered the direction of the Dresden Kreuzchor and shortly afterwards the Thomanerchor Leipzig in Leipzig (like Hans Thamm in 1957). But he stayed with the Windsbachers and was adopted in December 2011. His successor has been the former Kruzian Martin Lehmann since February 1, 2012 , who until then was head of the Wuppertal Kurrende .


The singers of the Windsbach Boys Choir in the Sistine Chapel.
The singers of the Windsbach Boys Choir in the Sistine Chapel.

Most of the singers are housed in the Evangelical Lutheran student home and are taught in special choir classes at the external Johann Sebastian Bach grammar school. This enables the singers' special needs to be addressed. For vocal training in boarding include voice training , music theory and daily choir rehearsals.

In order to ensure the completion of homework and deepening of the curriculum, the daily study time in the boarding school is compulsory for lower and intermediate levels. Depending on the level of performance, in-depth follow-up work by teachers from the grammar school is offered in this context in order to compensate for missed lessons due to tours and special choir rehearsals before important performances.

In addition to the grammar school, there is the possibility of attending the local elementary or middle school in Windsbach as well as the secondary schools in the neighboring towns of Neuendettelsau or Heilsbronn .

Mistreatment allegations

In 2010, three years after the death of the choir founder Hans Thamms, a group of former boarding school students published allegations against him for alleged child abuse in the 1950s and 1960s.

In 2013 the board of trustees decided to rename the “Hans-Thamm-Saal” to the “Großer Chorsaal”.

As early as 2004, such allegations had been made against Thamm's successor, Karl-Friedrich Beringer, in the press. Investigations by the responsible public prosecutor's office in Ansbach could not substantiate the suspicion against Beringer, i.e. the allegation of bodily harm as well as the allegation of mistreatment of wards. On the contrary, she found that mistreatment of those under guard could be ruled out.

Promotion and support

The former "parish orphanage" - part of today's boarding school with a student home (main building)
The former "parish orphanage" - part of today's boarding school with a student home (main building)

The boys' choir, an independent institution under public law, receives financial support from the "Fördergesellschaft Windsbacher Knabenchor", its own foundation, the Patronage , an association of donors from the Nuremberg region, but above all from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria . With its grants, it covers around 40 percent of the institution's annual budget.


Concert in St. Lorenz
Concert in the Frauenkirche in Dresden

With around 100 singers (concert and traveling choir: 50-70 singers) the choir has 10-20 liturgical appearances a year and gives up to 50 concerts . This also includes around one or two major tours annually , which have so far been to other European countries (Norway, Finland, Malta, France, Great Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy), the former USSR, the Middle East (Israel), the Far East (China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore), Australia, the USA, and South America (Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay). The choir accompanied Federal Presidents Richard von Weizsäcker and Roman Herzog on state visits and also gave concerts for Federal Presidents Johannes Rau , Horst Köhler, Christian Wulff and Joachim Gauck . Since 2009, the Windsbacher can be heard on four tours with German folk songs in the largest cities of the People's Republic of China.


The musical focus of the Windsbacher Knabenchor is on sacred music, with the repertoire ranging from the Renaissance to the modern. In addition to a cappella works from all epochs, it mainly includes the great works by u. a. Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Friedrich Handel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner, Max Reger and Igor Stravinsky. In the 2016/17 season, the Windsbachers will be on the road with the High Mass in B minor by JS Bach, including in Spain (Barcelona, ​​Madrid, Girona, Oviedo), Italy (Turin), at the Rheingau Music Festival and at the Bach Week in Ansbach.


Recordings (selection)

Recordings under the direction of Hans Thamm

  • JS Bach, Cantatas BWV 110, 17, Cantatas 1961/1996
  • JS Bach, cantatas BWV 131, 137, 190, Electrola / Rondeau
  • JS Bach, Motets BWV 226, BWV 227, Ariola / Eurodisc 1960
  • Dietrich Buxtehude, Missa Brevis and cantatas, SDG 1962
  • The Windsbacher Boys' Choir in the Munich Cathedral, AKG
  • The Windsbacher boys' choir in the Nuremberg Lorenz Church, AKG
  • Old Masters Double Choir Motets, Columbia
  • Schütz, Historia of the Nativity, Columbia 1964
  • Sing a new song to the Lord, AKG 2006

Recordings under the direction of Karl-Friedrich Beringer

  • All Lust and Freud, Rondeau 1983/2000
  • On bright days, Bellaphon 1984
  • CFE Bach, St. Matthew Passion, Rondeau
  • Choral music in the 20th century, Rondeau 2001
  • JS Bach, Motets BWV 225-230, Rondeau / Bellaphon 1981
  • JS Bach, Johannes Passion, Bayer-Records 1998
  • JS Bach, Magnificat in D major + cantatas BWV 243, 225, 229, 227, Rondeau 1992
  • JS Bach, Mass in B minor, Hänssler Classic 1994
  • JS Bach, Cantatas BWV 34, 93, 1000 Rondeau 2000
  • JS Bach, cantatas BWV 30, 19, Bayer-Records 1990
  • JS Bach, Christmas Oratorio, Warner Classics 1994
  • Brahms, Requiem, Sony Classical 2002
  • Choral music from early baroque to late romantic, rondeau
  • German folk songs, Sony Classical 2010
  • A little melody, Rondeau 2002
  • No beautiful country, folk songs, Rondeau 1982
  • Mendelssohn, Elias, Sony Classical 2008
  • Mendelssohn, Lobgesang, Hänssler Classic 1996
  • Motets, Kaminski, Kodály, Pepping, Duffe, Bruckner, Rondeau 1979
  • Mozart Requiem, Sony Classical 2009
  • Now, welcome, Herr Christ, Sony Classical 2001
  • Psallite, sings and sounds, Rondeau 2003
  • Schubert, Mass in A flat major, Sony Classical 2010
  • Schütz / Gabrieli, Rondeau 1983
  • Schumann / Brahms, Zigeunerleben, Zigeunerlieder, Bayer-Records 1989
  • Stravinsky, Psalm Symphony, Rondeau 2001
  • From Bach to Ellington, 1999, Rondeau

Recordings under the direction of Martin Lehmann

  • Christmas Oratorio, Cantatas IV to VI, Sony Classical 2015
  • Johann Staden Motetten, Sony Classical 2015
  • Christmas Oratorio Cantatas I to VI, Sony Classical 2016
  • Water & Spirit, Sony Classical 2019

Ensembles of former Windsbacher

  • Carus Quintet (a cappella quintet)
  • Dufay ensemble
  • Harmonia Vocalis (a cappella quintet)
  • Vocanta (a cappella choir)
  • Viva Voce (a cappella ensemble)
  • Sonat Vox (a cappella ensemble)

Well-known former Windsbach choir singers

  • Yosemeh Adjei , countertenor and trumpeter
  • Rainer Bertram , pop singer and actor
  • Klaus Bucka, choir director and composer
  • Thomas Fleischmann , sports journalist and television presenter
  • Uli Fuchs , photographer
  • Reiner Geißdörfer, religious educator and concert singer, tenor
  • Wolfgang Gsellmeier, blues musician
  • Charly Hopp, musician, horn player
  • Tobias Lehner , painter and graphic artist
  • Matthias Lutze, concert and opera singer, bass baritone
  • Clemens Nicol, radio announcer, speech trainer
  • Philipp Meierhöfer, concert and opera singer, bass
  • Mathis Mootz ( Panacea ), musician, DJ
  • Sebastian Myrus , publisher, concert and opera singer, baritone
  • Christian Rathgeber, concert and opera singer, tenor
  • Felix Rathgeber, concert and opera singer, bass
  • Tobias Rathgeber, opera singer, tenor
  • Michael Riedel, organist
  • Peter Schöne , concert and opera singer, baritone
  • Michael Schanze , pop singer, author, actor, television presenter
  • Marco Schmädicke, musician
  • Martin Schmidt , politician
  • Wolfgang Schmock, musician, concert organizer
  • Uwe Ungerer, musician, composer
  • Willi Weglehner , writer
  • Oliver Weidinger, opera, lied and concert singer, baritone
  • Tobey Wilson , tenor, entertainer
  • Christian Zenker, concert and opera singer, tenor


  • Max Liedtke (Ed.): Der Windsbacher Knabenchor, Wißner-Verlag Augsburg 1996, ISBN 3-89639-022-8 .
  • Max Liedtke / Horant Schulz: Boys Choir - Last, Happiness, Chance in Life? An investigation using the example of the Windsbacher Knabenchor , Wißner-Verlag, Augsburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-89639-845-1 (month of publication 3/2012)

Web links

Commons : Windsbacher Knabenchor  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  2. End of an era: The last concert with the "boss"
  3. People & Contact: Martin Lehmann ( Memento from September 1, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  4. See on this: Liedtke / Schulz: Knabenchor-Last, Glück, Lebenschance; Wißner-Verlag, Augsburg 2012
  5. ^ ZEIT-online:: Beringers Passion of October 7, 2004 , accessed on September 29, 2011
  6. accessed on November 21, 2011
  7. Supporting company Windsbacher Boys Choir