|Alternative Spellings||Vienna Choir Boys, Wiener Sängerknaben|
|Creation||1498, June 30th|
The Vienna Boys' Choir a choir of boy sopranos and altos based in Vienna, Austria. 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.
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 after Austrian composers Bruckner, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert, which combined perform about 300 concerts each year before almost 500,000 people. Each group tours for about nine to eleven weeks.
The choir is the modern-day descendant of the boys' choirs of the Viennese Court, dating back to the late Middle Ages. The choir was, for practical purposes, established by a letter from Emperor Maximilian I of Habsburg on 30 June 1498, instructing 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 24 and 26) was to provide musical accompaniment for the church mass. Additionally, 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.
Over the centuries, the choir has worked with many composers, including Heinrich Isaac, Hofhaimer, Biber, Fux, Caldara, Gluck, Salieri, Mozart, Franz Schubert and Bruckner.
In 1920, following the fall of the Austrian Empire, the Hofkapelle (court orchestra) 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 it has evolved into a professional music group. The choir adopted the now-famous blue and white sailor suit, replacing the imperial military cadet uniform that included a dagger.
Since 1948, the Palais Augarten has served as their rehearsal venue and boarding school, which goes from kindergarten level up to middle school level.
In 1961, Walt Disney filmed Almost Angels, a fictional drama about (and starring) the Vienna Boys' Choir, set and filmed in the Palais Augarten. It was Disney who, for cinematographic reasons, persuaded the Austrian government to allow the boys to legally wear the Austrian national emblem on the breast of their uniform, a tradition that continues to this day. Wikipedia