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Vienna Boys Choir

Vienna Boys Choir


Artistic Director: Gerald Wirth

Boys have been singing at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor since the 15th century. In 1498 the court moved from Innsbruck to Vienna and the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian requested 12 boy-singers to join his courtmusicians; ever since, the year 1498 is regarded as the official foundation date of the Imperial Chapel and the Vienna Boys’ Choir (Wiener Sängerknaben). The imperial court attracted musicians such as Isaac, Haydn, Mozart, Salieri, Schubert, and Bruckner, some of whom were themselves choristers.

Until 1918 the chapel performed exclusively for the court. After the dissolution of the Hapsburg Empire in 1918, the Austrian government took over the court opera but not the choirboys. The choir owes its survival to the initiative of Josef Schnitt, who established the choir as a private institution, in which the former court choirboys became the Wiener Sängerknaben and the imperial uniform was replaced by the sailor suit, the height of boys’ fashion at that time.

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