Origin Leipzig, Germany
Genres Choral, classical
Occupation(s) Boys choir
Instruments Boys' and men's voices (SATB)
Years active 1212-present
Past members

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.

The choir


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. Gotthold Schwarz is the 17th Thomaskantor since Bach with a term due to run from 2016 to 2021.

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):

Famous Thomaner


Awards and recognition


State decorations:


See also


  1. Unknown (7 September 2011). "Academy / Kohn Bach Prize winners: Thomanerchor Leipzig". London: Royal Academy of Music. Retrieved 9 September 2011.


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