Friday, October 23, 2009

There is something special about the Vienna Boys Choir. They have a consistently beautiful sound and a long, interesting history.
I’ve been alerted to the rumors that they may start accepting girls into the choir ; I almost fainted at the thought. The WSK management are saying that it isn’t true and I hope they aren’t stonewalling us.

How hard could it possibly be to find boy singers? What boy wouldn’t love to go live in that palace in Vienna, tour the world with a bunch of friends, meet adoring crowds everywhere and learn a craft that will almost guarantee them a career? I certainly would.

I have two DVD’s from the Vienna Boys Choir that I like to watch. They are both dedicated to Mozart. The first, titled “Waisenhaus Mass” and Other Choral Works, has two performances that were recorded for television in 1988 and 1990. The first part, the Waisenhaus Mass, was performed at the Hofburg Chapel in Vienna.

This Mass was written when Mozart was 12 for the consecration of a new orphanage in Vienna and the Empress Theresia was in the audience.
A newspaper at the time said, “all of the music sung by the orphanage choir in the High Mass was written by Wolfgang Mozart, the twelve-year-old boy famous for his exceptional talent…; it was newly composed for the occasion, and directed by the composer himself to the applause and admiration of all present…”

It goes without saying that the Vienna boys are in excellent form, looking perfectly wholesome and angelic in their white uniforms.

The chapel itself is also very pretty with pale stone columns and walls, deep red lower walls and lots of statues perched high on the columns. There is a nice size orchestra to support the boys and a talented group of men from the Herrenchor Der Wiener Staatsoper to help out.

The Mass is labeled a Missa Solemnis in C minor and has the usual parts, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, etc. It’s Mozart so of course it’s good.

I like the second part, Other Choral Works, better mainly because I recognized more of the music, like Sub Tuum Praesidium and Ave Verum Corpus.
It’s interesting that Mozart composed Ave Verum Corpus, perhaps his most popular sacred composition, in Baden bei Wien for the choir director there. There are two excellent young soloists in this production.
This was filmed in the parish church of St. Stephen in Baden bei Wien, where it was written. The church, again, is very handsome with lots of gold touches everywhere. The orchestra is all strings and the men’s chorus is from the Wiener Hofmusikkapelle.

Uwe Christian Harrer conducts both performances.

This post grew longer than I expected so I will write about the other DVD in a couple of days.


  1. Hi,

    And thanks for your post (and the other posts also of course)

    As far as I know about WSK & Girls (from Internet), they accept both boys and girst to their kindergarned and elementary school. The elementary school kids sing as mixed choir.

    They also have a Girls Choir for older girls that meets couple times per week at the Augarden, but as far as I know the girls don't live at the palace.

    I think we can be pretty sure, that they boys choir will be there for a long time. If anything, there will be paraller choir for girls also.

    I'm quessing the other DVD is the "Mozart Celebration". Just watched it (again). Its great music, I only wish that the director would show the boys more (and not zoom to architechtural detais of the church).

    Btw I had great opportunity to listen WSK:s Haydnchor live at Musikverein when we did car trip across Europe couple weeks ago. Only requirement from me was, that we must be in Vienna either in friday or sunday. You might quess why...

    We were in Munich also, but unfortunately Tölzter boys didn't have any concerts fot the whole time.

  2. hi _r2_,
    I'm sure you're right about WSK not becoming a mixed choir. It seems unlikely and one of the articles I read that reported the change has been removed from the web. I guess I won't worry about it yet.

    Also, you're right about the other DVD and I've made the same statement in the post about the camera not spending enough time on the boys.

    You are so lucky to live where you can visit so many great choirs. That road trip must have been a great time.

    Thanks for your kind comments.