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. In 1920 the Hofkapelle (court musicians) was disbanded. However, the rector at the time, Josef Schnitt, sought a continuation of the tradition. In 1924 the "Vienna Boys' Choir" was officially founded and has evolved into a professional music group.
Since 1948 the Palais Augarten has served as their rehearsal venue and boarding school which goes from kindergarten level up to middle school level. The choir adopted its now-famous blue and white sailor suits, replacing the imperial military cadet uniforms that included a dagger. The composer HK Gruber is one of the graduates of the reformed choir. The choir is a private, not-for-profit organization. There are approximately 100 choristers between the ages of ten and fourteen.
The boys are divided into four touring choirs, named for Bruckner, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert, which perform about 300 concerts each year in front of almost 500,000 people. Each group tours for about nine to eleven weeks. After Dr. Eugen Jesser died in May 2008, Walter Nettig became the choir's president and Franz Schlosser its director. Gerald Wirth became the choir's artistic director in 2001. Since the turn of the 21st century, the choir has come under pressure to modernise and has faced criticism of their musical standards leading to a split with the Vienna State Opera.
The choir has for the first time had to advertise for recruits after a rival choir school was established by Ioan Holender, director of the opera company. He complained of both falling standards and of poor communication with the choir. He said that the State Opera sometimes trained boys for particular stage roles only to find out on the day of performance that they were unavailable as they had gone on tour with the choir. Some boys were attracted to the rival choir school by the prospect of a more relaxed atmosphere and of performance fees being paid directly to them. The Vienna Boys Choir has sought to update its image, recording pop music selections and adopting an alternative uniform to the sailor suits used since the 1920s, allowing the boys to dance as they sing. Selected discography Christmas * Wiener Sängerknaben Goes Christmas (2003) * Frohe Weihnacht (Merry Christmas) (1999) * Christmas in Vienna / Heiligste Nacht (1990) * The Little Drummer Boy (1990) * Merry Christmas from the Vienna Choir Boys (1982) * Christmas with the Vienna Choir Boys (with Hermann Prey) * Christmas with the Vienna Boys' Choir, London Symphony Orchestra (1990) * Weihnacht mit den Wiener Sängerknaben (Gillesberger 1980) * Die Wiener Sängerknaben und ihre Schönsten ...
(1967) * Frohe Weihnacht (1960) * Christmas Angels (RCA Gold Seal) Pop music * I Am from Austria (2006) * Wiener Sängerknaben Goes Pop (2002) Other recordings * Orff: Carmina Burana (with Andre Previn and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) (1994) Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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