Death of a Viennese conductor, 84

Death of a Viennese conductor, 84


norman lebrecht

September 04, 2017

Xaver Meyer conducted more than 2,000 concerts in his long life, many of them on radio and TV.

Born in Vienna on August 28, 1933, he founded the Wiener Madrigalchor in 1955 and led it for the rest of the century.

In 1956 he was appointed chorus master of the Vienna Boys Choir, from 1964 to 1984 he was chorus director at the Theater an der Wien and from 1976 to 1987 he headed the Wiener Männergesang-Verein.

His book “Chorleitung” (Choral Conducting) has appeared in several editions.


  • Xaver Meyer toured all five continents extensively from the late 50ies to the late 70ies, first with the Vienna Boys Choir and then with the Vienna Academy Chamber Choir (Wiener Akademie-Kammerchor), a professional ensemble once affiliated as the choir of Theater an der Wien under the directorship of Meyer (1964-84) – a few choir members working there until today.

    In Vienna, he established a culture of performing the large choral works from Haendel to Schoenberg and Britten at the highest artistic level without participating in the globalized (or westernized) music business structures, but rather taking advantage of what he found and “grew” locally in and around Vienna: generations of music students whom he interested in choir singing, and generations of orchestra and freelance musicians who enjoyed playing these concerts, amongst them the early Alfred Brendel (singing), HK Gruber (double bass), Werner Hink (a pupil of Meyer in college and later first concert master of the Vienna Philharmonic), to name but a few. Other pupils included Peter Wolf, who later worked with Frank Zappa, Chicago, Santana and The Who.The work of popular educators like Meyer is taken as one of the reasons for the “legendary” Viennese music audience, famous for it’s enthusiastic participation in the City’s musical life (more than 30.000 people attending musical and staged performances every night in a city of 2 Million).

    For all of this, he is missed.

    PS – Norman it’s amazing how you are globally capturing local news like these – thank you!

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Christian – Many thanks for your kind words. Please accept my sympathies for such an irreplaceable loss.

  • Brian O'Connors says:

    Xaver also is the reason that a family, separated by World War One as we call it here in the USA was able to reunite and get to know each other now thru three generations and hopefully for many more to come…I can still remember sitting at my Grandmothers, Irmgard Kitzler Hull’s side as we listened to an album of the Vienna Boys Choir doing Christmas Music, led by your father, what an amazing man.

  • Jürgen Dollhausen says:

    I bow to a great artist and teacher.
    Jürgen Dollhausen