Searching for a missing composer in Vienna, Austria

The graves or five famous composers are in this photo, but only four of the composers are actually buried there

If you plan to visit Vienna, a trip to a cemetery would probably not be top in your mind. However, when planning our trip through Europe last summer I discovered the Vienna Central Cemetery (Wiener Zentralfriedhof) would be a unique place to visit.

It was a hot August day when we left our hotel near the train station and walked to the bus station a short distance away. The bus ride took about 20 minutes and we got off in a suburb a short distance away from the cemetery. After going around the outside wall we eventually found the front gate.

Front gate
Checking the cemetery map
We were at the entrance marked with an x and the composers section is marked with a black circle
The imposing St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery Church found in the centre of the cemetery. The composers’ graves are just to the left of this photo in section 32A

Before we reached the graves of the composers, we passed by a special section of “honorary graves” near the church. This was where the graves of famous modern Austrians were buried. We found many of these graves to be very artistic so I included a few below:

This creative kitty represents Austrian cartoonist Manfred Deix
At the time I didn’t know what to make of this grave, though I guessed it had to do with modern art. It was a reasonable guess, as I later learned it was the grave of artist Franz West
The grave of Udo Jurgens, who I discovered was a composer and singer who had a long career and even won the Eurovision song contest back in 1966. The piano cover made of stone was a nice effect

Eventually we found section 32A, where the composers are buried. Their monuments are ornate, but not too grand considering some of the other ones in this part of the cemetery.

Johann Strauss
Johannes Brahms
Franz Schubert
Ludwig van Beethoven
And Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the front…well, sort of.

Now, I had learned that the grave dedicated to Mozart was empty before coming here. Mozart is not even buried at this cemetery, but was given a monument there because this was the main cemetery of Vienna. In fact, he was actually buried in St. Marx Cemetery which is in a completely different location in Vienna.

So we went to St. Marx the next day as it was just a 40 minute walk from our hotel near the train station. This was the chance see Mozart’s actual grave, and complete the set five of the great composers buried in Vienna, not four.

It was a nice stroll through St. Marx, though we were in for a surprise there as well.

Entrance to St. Marx
St. Marx was a little more overgrown and quieter than the central cemetery.

We eventually found Mozart’s grave, located in a spot by itself away from the other graves.

Mozart’s grave at St. Marx
“…only a short time [after he was buried], it was already difficult to determine Mozart’s exact burial place.”
So it turns out this was not the precise burial location either

I learned more about the confusion after doing a little research.

Mozart was placed in an unmarked commoners grave and that was used for other burials after ten years. His wife tried to find the location after 17 years but had no luck, and a memorial was placed on the location where they thought he might be buried.

So it looks like the mystery might never be solved!

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