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Vienna Choir Boys

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Biography

The Vienna Boys’ Choir (also The Vienna Choir Boys, German: Wiener Sängerknaben) is a choir of trebles and altos based in Vienna. It is one of the best known boys’ choirs in the world. The boys are selected mainly from Austria, but also from many other countries around the world, and individually interviewed.

Over the centuries, the choir has worked with many composers including Mozart, Caldara, Salieri, Heinrich Isaac, Hofhaimer, Biber, Fux, Gluck, and Bruckner.

History

The choir is the modern-day descendant of the boys’ choirs from the Viennese Court, dating back to the late Middle Ages. The choir was, for practical purposes, established by a letter written by Maximilian I of Habsburg on 7 July 1498. In the letter the Emperor instructed court officials to employ a singing master, two basses and six boys. Jurij Slatkonja became the director of the ensemble.

The role of the choir (numbering between fourteen and twenty) was to provide musical accompaniment to the church mass. The boys received a solid musical education, which in most cases had a significant impact on the rest of their lives, as many went on to become professional musicians. The composers Jacobus Gallus, Franz Schubert, and the conductors Hans Richter, Felix Mottl and Clemens Krauss were members of the choir. The Haydn brothers were members of the St. Stephen’s Cathedral choir, directed at the time by Georg Reutter II who used this choir in his duties for the imperial court which at the time had no boy choristers of its own.

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