|Instruments||Boys' and men's voices (SATB)|
The Thomanerchor (English: St. Thomas Choir of Leipzig) is a boys' choir in Leipzig, Germany. The choir was founded in 1212. At present, the choir consists of 92 boys from 9 to 18 years of age. The members, called Thomaner, live in a boarding school, the Thomasalumnat, and attend Thomasschule zu Leipzig, a Gymnasium school with a linguistic profile and a focus on musical education. The younger members attend the primary school 76. Grundschule in der Manetstraße. Johann Sebastian Bach served as Thomaskantor, director of the choir and church music in Leipzig, from 1723 to 1750.
Although the choir's main musical field traditionally consists of the vocal work of Johann Sebastian Bach, the repertoire comprises chants from different eras, from the Renaissance to contemporary music. Georg Christoph Biller was the 16th Thomaskantor since Bach from 1992 to 2015.
The Forum Thomanum is a meeting place in the Bach Quarter of Leipzig. The construction has already begun and it will be a big musical campus with the Thomasalumnat, Kindergarten, Primary School, High School, Choir, Luther Church, Youth hostel, Administration buildings, gym, a rehearsal hall and more amenities. There are some critical voices as well, that the Forum Thomanum project will change the way that the Thomaner are instructed and recruited.
Most of the 93 members of the Thomanerchor live in the Thomasalumnat in Hiller street. The boys are separated in Stuben and not school classes or groups. One Stube is not only a sleeping room, but also an administrative entity with a closed hierarchy and a clear assignment of tasks. There's always an older choir boy with younger ones in each Stube in order to create a hierarchy and didactic relationship. Hence, the education on the Thomanerchor is enforced by the older members and the teachers don't really play a big role. Therefore, it is possible that only 5 teachers look after 90 children. Every year the Stuben are distributed again, the ages of the children are considered for the changes and the possibility to influence the social order on the Stube.
The Stuben have only lockable wardrobes (Köte) and one table for each boy. There are also other furnishings, namely shelves, for books, newspapers and satchels, radios, plants and chairs. Televisions and computers are not allowed and every room has about 10 beds.
The Thomasalumnat also has a gym, a rehearsal hall, and a dining-hall where all boys eat together thrice per day, a shop where the tailor sews the boys' suits for the concerts, an archive, a wing of the building for the teachers who live there, a room for the band, a model railway room, a fitness room, a living-room for the older boys, a "press room" for the school's newspaper, a sauna, a library with computers and internet, an infirmary, and a television room. Restrooms are not available for every boy: restrooms are on the hallway for the whole Stube. There are only two shower rooms for all boys.
The Thomanerchor offers concerts across all of Germany (at least two big tours a year) and abroad. The choir also sings three times a week in the Thomaskirche, "Motette" every Friday evening at 6 and every Saturday afternoon at 3, service on Sundays at 9 o'clock. The choir also sings at Protestant festivities. The children have vacations during the summer school vacations.
The tour of 2011, the choir's 800th year, presents a program of Scarlatti's Exultate Deo, Kyrie and Gloria from Palestrina's Missa sine nomine, Bruckner's motets Vexilla regis and Christus factus est pro nobis, and Bach's motet Jesu, meine Freude, performed for example on 6 July in the Eberbach Abbey at the Rheingau Musik Festival.
The Margrave of Meissen founded St. Thomas' priory for Augustinian Canons (Augustiner-Chorherrenstift zu St. Thomas) in 1212. A school was annexed to the monastery, the intended purpose of which was to develop future priests. Since the Reformation in 1539, the school and the choir have belonged to the city of Leipzig; it is also influenced by the Protestant Church of Saxony. This makes the Thomanerchor the oldest cultural entity in the city and one of the oldest in Europe. When Johann Sebastian Bach served as director, the choir only had 16 boys. After Bach's death, other famous musicians served as director, among them Doles, Hiller and Moritz Hauptmann.
By the end of the 19th century, the Thomasschule next to the Thomaskirche was demolished and the choir moved to the Hiller street, now the Leipziger "Music Quarter". During the Nazi era, the choir was incorporated into the Hitler Jugend in 1937. But the Nazi government did not succeed in infiltrating their ideology into the choir's repertoire because the then director Ramin concentrated on religious works. He also tried to prevent the boys from being enlisted as long as possible.
Georg Christoph Biller, who was a Thomaner himself, directed the choir from 1992 to 2015.
Cantors of the Thomanerchor, called Thomaskantor in German, have included (in brackets their time in the office):
- Georg Rhau (1518–1520)
- Johannes Galliculus (1520–1525)
- Sethus Calvisius (1594–1615)
- Johann Hermann Schein (1615–1630)
- Sebastian Knüpfer (1657–1676)
- Johann Schelle (1677–1701)
- Johann Kuhnau (1701–1722)
- Johann Sebastian Bach (1723–1750)
- Johann Friedrich Doles (1756–1789)
- Johann Adam Hiller (1789–1801)
- Johann Gottfried Schicht (1810–1823)
- Christian Theodor Weinlig (1823–1842)
- Moritz Hauptmann (1842–1868)
- Ernst Friedrich Richter (1868–1879)
- Wilhelm Rust (1880–1892)
- Gustav Schreck (1893–1918)
- Karl Straube (1918–1939)
- Günther Ramin (1939–1956)
- Kurt Thomas (1957–1960)
- Erhard Mauersberger (1961–1972)
- Hans-Joachim Rotzsch (1972–1991)
- Georg Christoph Biller (1992-2015)
- Gotthold Schwarz (2015-) (acting cantor)
- Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
- Günther Ramin
- Diethard Hellmann
- Jörg-Peter Weigle
- Die Prinzen
- Hans-Jürgen Beyer
- Georg Christoph Biller
- Jürgen Golle
- Reiner Süß
- Erhard Mauersberger
- Martin Christian Vogel
- ensemble amarcord
- Christoph Genz
- Hanns-Martin Schneidt
- Matthias Weichert
- Martin Petzold
- Die Thomaner - Ein Tag im Thomas-Alumnat. Documentary film. Germany 1941. Shot, directed and edited by 16 year old Thomaner choirboy Fritz Spiess
- Die Thomaner. Documentary film. East Germany 1979. Director: Lew Hohmann.
- Das fliegende Klassenzimmer. Literal adaptation of Erich Kästner's novel The Flying Classroom. Germany 2003. Director: Tomy Wigand.
- Paul Gerhardt - der Film. Mit dem Thomanerchor Leipzig. Documentary film. Germany 2007. Director: Gerold Hofmann.
- 800 Years of Thomanerchor. Germany March 25, 2012, MDR Television
- Die Thomaner Documentary film. Germany March 2012. Directors: Paul Smaczny, Günter Atteln.
Awards and recognition
- 2011 Bach Prize of the Royal Academy of Music (London).
- 2002 Brahms Prize of the Brahms Society of Schleswig-Holstein (German: Brahms Preis)
- 2002 ECHO Classic Award for Best Choral Performance of the Year (German: ECHO Klassik)
- 2001 European Cultural Award of the European Cultural Foundation
- 1999 BILD-OSGAR Award
- 1994 Grants-in-Aid from the Ernst von Siemens Foundation for Music
- 1985 Osaka Music Prize
- 1987 Fatherland's Order of Merit in Gold, of East Germany (German: Vaterländischer Verdienstorden)
- 1954 Fatherland's Order of Merit in Silver, of East Germany (German: Vaterländischer Verdienstorden)
- Unknown (7 September 2011). "Academy / Kohn Bach Prize winners: Thomanerchor Leipzig". London: Royal Academy of Music. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
- Horst List: Aus der Geschichte des Thomanerchores. Thomanerchor, Leipzig 1953.
- Lenka von Koerber: Wir singen Bach. Der Thomanerchor und seine Kantoren. Urania-Verlag, Berlin 1954.
- Horst List: Auf Konzertreise. Ein Buch von den Reisen des Leipziger Thomanerchores. Reich, Hamburg-Bergstedt 1957.
- Richard Petzoldt: Der Leipziger Thomanerchor. Edition Leipzig, Leipzig 1962.
- Bernhard Knick: St. Thomas zu Leipzig. Schule und Chor. Stätte des Wirkens von Johann Sebastian Bach. Bilder und Dokumente zur Geschichte der Thomasschule und des Thomanerchores mit ihren zeitgeschichtlichen Beziehungen. Mit einer Einführung von Manfred Mezger. Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden 1963.
- Hans-Jochim Rothe: Thomanerchor zu Leipzig, Deutsche Demokratische Republik. Thomanerchor, Leipzig 1968.
- Horst List: Der Thomanerchor zu Leipzig. Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig 1975.
- Armin Schneiderheinze: Der Thomanerchor zu Leipzig. Thomanerchor, Leipzig 1982.
- Wolfgang Hanke: Die Thomaner. Union-Verlag, Berlin 1985.
- Stefan Altner, Roland Weise: Thomanerchor Leipzig. Almanach 1. 1996. ISBN 3-9804313-1-2
- Gunter Hempel: Episoden um die Thomaskirche und die Thomaner. Tauchaer Verlag, Taucha 1997. ISBN 3-910074-67-7
- Michael Fuchs: Methoden der Frühdiagnostik des Eintrittszeitpunktes der Mutation bei Knabenstimmen. Untersuchungen bei Sängern des Thomanerchores Leipzig. 1997
- Stefan Altner: Thomanerchor und Thomaskirche. Historisches und Gegenwärtiges in Bildern. Tauchaer Verlag, Taucha 1998. ISBN 3-910074-84-7
- Georg Christoph Biller, Stefan Altner: Thomaneralmanach 4. Beiträge zur Geschichte und Gegenwart des Thomanerchors. Passage-Verlag, Leipzig 2000. ISBN 3-932900-33-2
- Gert Mothes, Siegfried Stadler: Die Thomaner. Passage-Verlag, Leipzig 2004. ISBN 3-932900-91-X
- Stefan Altner: Das Thomaskantorat im 19. Jahrhundert. Bewerber und Kandidaten für das Leipziger Thomaskantorat in den Jahren 1842 bis 1918. Quellenstudien zur Entwicklung des Thomaskantorats und des Thomanerchors vom Wegfall der öffentlichen Singumgänge 1837 bis zur ersten Auslandsreise 1920. Passage-Verlag, Leipzig 2006. ISBN 3-938543-15-9
- Helga Mauersberger (Hrsg.): Dresdner Kreuzchor und Thomanerchor Leipzig. Zwei Kantoren und ihre Zeit. Rudolf und Erhard Mauersberger. Druck- und Verlagsgesellschaft Marienberg, Marienberg 2007. ISBN 978-3-931770-46-4