Photo: Georg Wiesinger
“How wonderful that Gunar Letzbor makes the historically correct decision to employ the fantastic soloists of the St. Florianer Sängerknaben (boys’ choir) rather than female vocalists. It makes you feel especially close to the angels during the Ascension.”
They are among the oldest of boys’ choirs, and have a rich tradition: the St. Florianer Sängerknaben. Their founding goes all the way back to the year 1071. Numerous exceptional musicians have emerged from the ranks of this choir, among them famous composer Anton Bruckner. 2024 marks Bruckner’s 200th anniversary. Reason enough for the St. Florianer Sängerknaben to engage with one of the most renown members of their choir.
During the Bruckner year 2024, St. Florian abbey, where the great master is laid to rest, with its famous organ and the world-renown St. Florianer boys’ choir, will move even more into the focus of interest of the international Bruckner fan community than it already is. The intermission film during this year’s New Year’s concert marks a special beginning to the festivities. In the film, two Florian choir boys lead an audience of millions through all the Bruckner Memorial sites, and the choir performs the ‘Locus iste,’ one of the most famous choir works by Bruckner. In almost every concert by the St. Florianer boys’ choir, a piece by Anton Bruckner is included. After all, one is very proud of the most famous member in the history of this traditionrich boys’ choir. The ‘Locus iste’ has long become a homely hymn for the boys. The other great motets, such as ‘Ave Maria,’ ‘Os justi,’ and ‘Tota pulchra es’ are canonical pieces for the Florianer. All these works were newly recorded under the direction of Markus Stumpner and will be published on CD on the occasion of the Bruckner year.
Not only the master’s most popular choir pieces are presented here, but also rarities. The recently restored Bruckner grand piano, a Bösendorfer built in 1846, which accompanied Bruckner’s career from 1848 to 1896, plays a special role. On this grand piano, Franz Farnberger performs Bruckner’s best-known piano piece, the ‚Remembrance,’ and accompanies another former Sängerknabe, the internationally renown countertenor Alois Mühlbacher, with two Bruckner lieder (songs). The Sängerknaben and the pianist together perform the ‘22nd Psalm,’ and an ensemble made up of former Sängerknaben sing the two men’s choir pieces ‘At Midnight’ and ‘Autumn Song.’ One piece, ‘The Teachers,’ which has a tough-to-chew text in today’s world, was rearranged by Franz Farnberger into a humorous antiphonal song between teachers and students. On this CD, which was recorded in St. Florian, the famous Bruckner organ – played masterfully by organist Klaus Sonnleitner – is also included.
The success of the St. Florianer Sängerknaben is built on its strong foundation and rooted in an almost thousand-year-long history. Numerous excellent musicians have emerged from the ranks of the choir since its founding, the most famous among them: Anton Bruckner. Today, the St. Florianer Sängerknaben are an internationally active, lively choir with a diverse repertoire – and the clear goal to share with their audience their own musical joy. During their regular concert tours, they serve as cultural ambassadors of Europe, bringing the great heritage of Austria’s musical traditions as well as the latest repertoire ideas to all continents. The unique sound of this boys’ choir, which only very few choirs globally are cultivating, is very sought-after at important music festivals and for great opera productions. As such, the choir has traveled to all corners of the globe in recent decades, performing at renown music festivals like the Salzburger Festspiele, Wiener Festwochen, and the Festival d’Aix en Provence. They have worked many times with well-known orchestras and conductors, among them the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Cleveland Orchestra. Franz Welser-Möst, former general musical director of the Wiener Staatsoper, serves as honorary president of the association Friends of the St. Florianer Sängerknaben.