Burgkapelle & Wiener Sängerknaben
Court Chapel & Vienna Boys′ Choir

The Burgkapelle in Vienna's Hofburg, home to the Vienna Boys' Choir - sort of.

The Burgkapelle is directly above the entrance to the Schatzkammer or treasury. It was built in the 1440ies under the rule of Friedrich III, the first Habsburg to become Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. This makes the chapel one of the older, but not the oldest part of the Hofburg in general.

Access to the oldest part of the Hofburg through the Swiss Gate

The oldest part is the court that incorporates the chapel, the Schweizerhof (Swiss Court) with foundations from the late 13th century. In fact, little is left of the original building from the outside, as it was refurbished repeatedly. The interiors are surprisingly well-preserved and still bear their original Gothic vaulting and wooden statues from the 15th century.

 Nevertheless, the chapel wouldn′t be all that spectacular weren′t there Austria′s most famous eunuchs: The Vienna Boys′ Choir uses the chapel as something like their performance headquarter. This choir - probably the most famous boys′ choir outside of Cambridge - was founded by the legendary Emperor Maximilian I in 1498.

History of the Vienna Boys' Choir

It was connected with the courtly life of the Habsburgs: It was the Sängerknabens' job to sing at the court services. There was a total of approximately 14 to 20 choir boys, including some that became famous musicians later on in their lives: Michael Haydn (the brother of Joseph Haydn and a composer himself) and Franz Schubert started their musical life with the Wiener Sängerknaben. When the Empire went haywire in 1918, the choir was dissolved only two years after the monarchy.

Joseph Haydn's brother Michael was a choir boy

However, it was re-launched in as a private society in 1924 with new, somewhat peculiar uniforms in sailor style ("In the Navy…"), finally making them a wet-dream of every pedophile in the World. The re-formation was achieved through the initiative of Joseph Schnitt, who had served as the last Imperial Choir Master. Today, there are four choirs with a total of approximately 100 boys. They attend an associated boarding school, which is among the more prestigious schools of Austria.

Training rooms and school are located in the Palais Augarten in the second district, the Leopoldstadt. The choirs are on tour a lot and give performances all over the World, approximately 300 a year - however, there is a Sunday service in the Hofkapelle at 9.15 as a fixed occasion. Getting tickets might be a bit pricy and difficult, though. So I would recommend the hassle only for aficionados of boys′ choirs.

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Other Parts of the Hofburg

Hofburg Introduction - Albertina - Kaiserappartements - Schatzkammer Treasury - Neue Burg Gardens & Heldenplatz - Museums of Ethnology & Ephesos  - National Library - Augustinerkirche - Spanish Riding School - Burgkapelle & Vienna Boys' Choir - Arms Collection & Old Instruments

Further Reading

Official website of the Vienna Tourist Information

Official Website of the Vienna Boys' Choir

Wikipedia on the Vienna Boys' Choir