Vienna Boys Choir Concerts at the Hofburg Chapel Sundays Mass

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PreviousJune 2025

The Vienna Boys' Choir is a choir of long-standing tradition; it is one of the oldest boys' choirs not attached to a church or a college. It was the choir attached to the Austrian court (and very much a travelling band); its roots go back to the 13th century, but records from the early phases are tenuous and scarce. In the late 15th century, the choir was part of the court music of Maximilian I, the Holy Roman Emperor, who moved the court from Innsbruck to Vienna and thus is credited with the foundation of the Chapel Imperial.

Among the Choir's duties today are the Sunday services in the Imperial Chapel, appearances at official state occasions, concerts in Vienna and abroad as well as appearances in the Vienna State Opera and Volksoper. Each choir spends about 11 weeks of the academic year on tour; each choir boy sings around 80 performances a year.

Joseph Haydn: Great Organ Solo Mass / Missa in E flat. In honorem Beatissimae Virginis Mariae, Hob. XXII:4

The “Great Organ Solo Mass” is one of Haydn's early masses, created when he had not been long as court music director in the service of Prince Nicholas I Esterházy. The location of the premiere, the Eisenstadt Castle Chapel, is a relatively small room, which corresponds to the relatively small cast. But it is precisely in the instrumentation that Haydn shows himself to be modern: he uses two English horns, which require an unusual range of tones - the corresponding instruments were purchased by Haydn at the time the mass was written.

The outstanding feature of this mass, however, is the organ that stands out as a soloist; it is not for nothing that this Marian Mass (“Missa in honorem Beatissimae Virginis Mariae”) was later given the name “Great Organ Solo Mass”. Using the organ as a concert instrument in liturgy was popular at this time. This meant that smaller organ concerts (stylistically corresponding to concerts for other keyboard instruments) could also be performed in the mass. While in other “organ solo masses” the organ traditionally appears primarily as a soloist in the Benedictus, in this mass, in addition to its virtuoso appearance in the Benedictus, it is used in concert in almost all movements from the beginning of the Kyries. Haydn himself probably played the organ part at the premiere.


Program and cast

Dr. Maria Helfgott

Conductor: Jordi Casals
Organist: Wolfgang Kogert
Choir: Vienna Boys' Choir, Men's Choir of the Vienna State Opera and Choraleschola of the Vienna Hofburg Chapel
Orchestra: Members of the Vienna Philharmonic

Celebrant: Peter Shipka

Joseph Haydn

Great Organ Solo Mass, Hob. XXII:4

Vienna Boys' Choir, men's choir of the Vienna State Opera, Choraleschola of the Vienna Hofburg Chapel, members of the Vienna Philharmonic, Jordi Casals, Wolfgang Kogert

Photo gallery

Die Hofburgkapelle

The Vienna Boys’ Choir and members of the orchestra and choir of the Vienna State Opera are known as Hofmusikkapelle (Court Music Orchestra) and, as such, perform High Mass in the Chapel of the Imperial Palace on Sundays and religious holidays. 

In the chapel, the oldest part of the castle, the Court Music Orchestra performs works by old and new masters. The Hofmusikkapelle consists exclusively of a group of the Vienna Boys’ Choir and members of the orchestra and choir of the Vienna State Opera.

Let yourself be enchanted by the bell-like voices of the young boys, who are accompanied by musicians of the first rank.

Corul de baieti Viena
© Bwag/Commons
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