The VIENNA BOYS CHOIR is one of the most famous choirs in the world, and one of its oldest. In 1498, Emperor Maximilian I moved his court to Vienna to establish the Chapel Imperial there, along with the Vienna Boys Choir. Over the centuries, the court attracted musicians like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Anton Bruckner. Joseph Haydn, Michael Haydn, and Franz Schubert were themselves choirboys.
Today the Vienna Boys Choir is a private, non-profit organization, which relies on sponsorship and donations. The Choir maintains a primary school, a junior and a senior high school. 300 boys and girls between the ages of six and 19 attend the Choir’s Schools in Vienna’s Augarten park. All receive individual voice lessons and sing in one of the choirs. The Choir’s education is open to all, regardless of their origin, nationality, or religion. About third of the students go on to become music professionals.
The 100 boy choristers between the ages of nine and fourteen are divided into four choirs. Between them, the choirs give around 300 concerts each year, attended by almost half a million spectators around the world. Since 1924, the boys have sung over 1000 tours in 100 different countries, which has resulted in a staggering 29,000 performances. At the Sunday services in Vienna’s Imperial Chapel, they perform with members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the State Opera Chorus. The Choir frequently appears with major orchestras, conducted by the likes of Joana Mallwitz, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Christian Thielemann, and Simone Young. Recent highlights include appearances at the Salzburg Festival and at the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concert.
The Vienna Boys Choir’s singing tradition is listed by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage in Austria. Professor Gerald Wirth, himself a former choirboy, is the Artistic Director of the entire Campus.