Vienna Cathedral Music

The history of music at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna goes back as far as the liturgy has been celebrated here. The first evidence of organised music can be found in the socalled ‘Stiftsbrief’ of 1365, a letter by Duke Rudolf IV stating rights and obligations of the canons. It mentions the function of cantor who was responsible for the choirmaster, the singers and choristers.

From the 16th century onwards there was a lively interchange between court and cathedral musicians effecting very high standards of music in Vienna.

In the 18th century, there was so much demand for church music at St. Stephen’s that the numerous services had to be supervised by two Directors of Music for almost a century. Each of them conducted a separate orchestra. Among the prominent musicians who worked at St. Stephen’s Cathedral are Johann Joseph Fux, the brothers Michael and Joseph Haydn, and Wolfgang Amadé Mozart.

Today’s Cathedral Music is provided by the Vienna Cathedral Choir, St. Stephen’s Vocal Ensemble, St. Stephen’s Capella, the Schola and the Vienna Cathedral Orchestra. The Director of Music, Markus Landerer, the cathedral organists Konstantin Reymaier and Ernst Wally, and organist Thomas Dolezal are full-time positions.

The main task of the Cathedral Music is to provide the music for High Mass at 10.15 a.m. every Sunday and on religious feast days. The Cathedral music also provides the music for a large number of further services and regular concerts throughout the year. It draws from the great treasures of church music of all eras, ranging from Gregorian chant to Palestrina, Schütz, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Bruckner, to name just a few of them; last not least there is also a emphasis to contemporary sacred music.