Skip to comments.Zentralfriedhof Wien: Where the Great Composers Go to Decompose
Posted on 03/28/2008 2:49:08 PM PDT by Borges
No cemetery in the world boasts more graves of great classical composers and other famous musicians than the massive Central Cemetery in Vienna (Zentralfriedhof Wien), which is the biggest of almost 50 cemeteries in the city. The burial ground, which was opened in 1874, is Europes largest in number of interred, holding the remains of over three million people, and the second largest in area. Of course, notables in politics, science, literature, and the arts receive their due among the most visited sites, grouped in the Ehrengräber (Honorary Graves). However, the most celebrated tenants of all are the many musicians, who make this place a natural tourist attraction for Austrias music capital.
Group 32 A in the cemetery is the location of the most illustrious composers and has been a popular destination for music lovers since the late 19th century. Johannes Brahms (May 7, 1833 April 3, 1897), Plot No. 26
By the time of Johannes Brahms death, the Zentralfriedhof had been well-established as the final resting place of Viennas elite, so his original grave is located at this site, without any of the strange post-mortem relocations suffered by some of his famous neighbors.
Johann Strauss II (October 25, 1825 June 3, 1899), Plot No. 27
Next to Brahms grave is the plot of his close friend and fellow composer, Johann Strauss, Jr., the author of The Beautiful Blue Danube, which Brahms wished he had written. As one of Viennas most honored sons, he was buried with his third wife, Adele, between Brahms and Schubert.
Franz Peter Schubert (January 31, 1797 November 19, 1828), Plot No. 28
At Schuberts final request, the composer of the Unfinished Symphony was buried on the outskirts of Vienna in Währinger Cemetery, two plots away from Beethovens grave. But on October 13, 1863, Schuberts remains were exhumed along with Beethovens, and both composers skeletons were examined, placed in fresh coffins, and reburied next to each other.
Ludwig van Beethoven (December 16, 1770 March 26, 1827), Plot No. 29
When the Währinger Cemetery was closed in 1888, Beethoven and Schubert were re-exhumed on June 22 of that year, moved to their present resting place in the Zentralfriedhof, and given suitably impressive monuments. (At this second exhumation, composer and curiosity-seeker Anton Bruckner was present, and from his own report, he lost a lens from his pince-nez, which he assumed must have fallen among Beethovens bones!)
Christoph Willibald Gluck (July 2, 1714 - November 15, 1787), Plot No. 49
Though Gluck made his career in Paris as a composer of operas, he retired in Vienna, where he succumbed to a stroke at 73. His remains were originally buried at Matzleinsdorfer Friedhof in Vienna, but were moved to Zentralfriedhof in 1923 to be placed among Viennas most honored musicians.
Also included in Group 32 A are the graves of Johann Strauss I (Plot No. 15), Eduard Strauss (Plot 42), Josef Strauss (Plot No. 44), Franz von Suppé (Plot No. 31), and Hugo Wolf (Plot No. 10)
But these famous musical residents are by no means the only composers memorialized at Zentralfriedhof.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 27, 1756 December 5, 1791), Plot 55
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts body is irretrievably lost, buried in an unmarked grave in Viennas St. Marx Cemetery, but there is an impressive marker commemorating him at the Central Cemetery.
Antonio Salieri (August 18, 1750 May 7, 1825) Group O, grave 54
Fans of the film Amadeus may note with interest that Mozarts rival, Antonio Salieri, is inhumed here, though his marker is not quite as impressive as the monument to Mozart. Salieri had previously been buried in Matzleinsdorfer Friedhof, but like his students Beethoven and Schubert, he eventually found a place at the Zentralfriedhof.
Arnold Schoenberg (September 13, 1874 July 13, 1951), Group 32 C, Number 21A
One of the most distinctive sculptures looms over Arnold Schoenbergs resting place, a massive cube-like monument that is as modernist in appearance as the composers music sounded. This stone was sculpted by Fritz Wotruba, designer of Viennas abstract Church of the Holy Trinity, who is also buried in this cemetery.
Located in other sections of the Zentralfriedhof are such noteworthy composers as Alexander von Zemlinsky (October 14, 1871 March 15, 1942), Hans Rott (August 1, 1858 - June 25, 1884), Hans Pfitzner (May 5, 1869 May 22, 1949), Robert Stolz (August 25, 1880 June 27, 1975), Franz Schmidt (December 22, 1874 February 11, 1939), Egon Wellesz (October 21, 1885 November 9, 1974), Carl Czerny (February 21, 1791 July 15, 1857), Karl Goldmark (May 18, 1830 - January 02, 1915), Johann Ritter von Herbeck (December 25, 1831 - October 28, 1877), Josef Lanner (April 12, 1801 April 14, 1843), Carl Millöcker (April 29, 1842 December 31, 1899) and György Ligeti (May 28, 1923 June 12, 2006), who is one of the most famous modern composers to be laid to rest here (above left).
Composers are not the only musical celebrities buried here. Conductor and waltz king Willi Boskovsky; pop star and singer of Rock Me, Amadeus, Falco (given name Johann Hans Hölzel); Viennese music critic and arch-defender of Brahms, Eduard Hanslick; soprano Lotte Lehmann; German heldentenor Max Lorenz; jazz musician Franz Georg Fatty George Pressler; dramatic soprano Leonie Rysanek; music theorist Simon Sechter; and 19th century vocal star, Johann Michael Vogl; all await Judgment Day at the Zentralfriedhof.
As you gaze upon the pictures and listen to the excerpts, you might recall the haunting words of this famous but grim Memento Mori:
I was once the same as ye, Yet as I am, so shall ye be.
Wouldnt be nice, though, to be as well-remembered as these musicians are, in such pleasant surroundings?
Requiescant in pace.
Classical Music PING
An Austrian-Swiss relative once told me that the Zentralfriedhof in Wien was half as big as Zurich, but twice as much fun! :-)
Praise Him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise Him upon the loud cymbals. Praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.
Rest in peace, makers of beautiful sounds.
Here’s where they stuck le tombeau de Mahler:
This is beautiful, thanks for posting. Shall we organize a FR-Classical Music field trip? I think I must go to Vienna. Should be cheap flights about now.