If we’re lucky we get a burial and a grave. Franz Schubert got three burials and two graves: an act almost as impressive as his body of work.
There is a rather banal explanation, however.
Schubert died on November 19th, 1828 (aged just 31) from typhoid fever. Or perhaps it was late-stage syphilis. Or maybe it was just a result of overzealous treatment with mercury for the latter condition. Nobody seems sure.
Just a year before, he’d carried the coffin at Beethoven’s burial. He was laid to rest on November 21st in the same cemetery (Währinger Ortsfriedhof), just a yard or two away from his great inspiration. Money was eventually raised for a proper monument at the site.
There he stayed until 1863, when his body was dug up and put in a more robust zinc coffin before its return into the ground. That was burial two.
The Währinger Ortsfriedhof closed in 1873 and would eventually become a park (the rather aptly-named Schubertpark). In the meantime, the Viennese authorities built the Zentralfriedhof, a giant cemetery away from the city centre.
The new cemetery was not an immediate hit with the public, which is one reason the city decided to put in some “honorary graves” to boost its attractiveness. This included establishing a little cluster of composer graves for the likes of Strauss, Brahms, Beethoven…and Schubert.
So in 1888, out came the shovels again and Schubert was relocated to grave 28, group 32A at the Zentralfriedhof. Beethoven is no.29 and Johann Strauss no.27, so you have to wonder what glorious ghostly music courses through that area after midnight.
How to find Schubert’s grave
The cemetery is huge, but the composer section is easy to find: enter at the main entrance (Tor 2) and simply continue straight ahead and through the arcade. Just beyond, on the left, is Schubert and colleagues. There’s a board by the roadside with a detailed map of both the cemetery and the 32A group, including the location of the graves.
Address: Zentralfriedhof, Simmeringer Hauptstraße 234, 1110 Vienna (for directions, see the main cemetery article.)