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’s a rather banal explanation, however.
- Originally buried next to Beethoven
- Moved to the main Zentralfriedhof cemetery in 1888
- Now among a group of famous composer graves
- See also:
Schubert’s death and burial
(The house Schubert died in)
Franz Schubert died on November 19th, 1828, 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 too sure.
Schubert had helped carried the coffin at Beethoven’s burial; just a year later and the young composer was himself laid to rest on November 21st in the same cemetery (Währinger Ortsfriedhof), a mere yard or two away from his great inspiration. He was just 31, an age that led one newspaper to write of his passing (my translation):
Our grief is further deepened by the conviction that he would have left us with even more beautiful and substantial works had he been able to live among us for longer.
That was burial number one.
Schubert stayed there until 1863, when they dug up his body, put it in a more robust zinc coffin, then returned him into the ground.
That was burial two.
(Schubert’s grave at the Zentralfriedhof)
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 somewhat away from the city centre (even though the German name translates to “central cemetery”).
The new cemetery proved a bit of a dud with the public, which is one reason the city decided to put in some “honorary graves” to boost the location’s attractiveness. This included establishing a little cluster of composer graves, where you now find the likes of the Strauss family, Brahms, Beethoven, Lanner, Christoph Willibald Gluck…and Schubert.
So in 1888, out came the shovels again to relocate Schubert to grave 28, group 32A at the Zentralfriedhof. Beethoven resides at 29 and Johann Strauss II at 27, so you have to wonder what glorious ghostly music courses through that area after dark.
I believe the headstone was a joint effort between Carl Kundmann and Theophil Hansen, who also teamed up on the Schubert monument in the Stadtpark, for example.
How to find Schubert’s grave
The Zentralfriedhof 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; Schubert and colleagues reside just beyond, on the left. A board by the roadside provides a detailed map of both the cemetery and the 32A group, including the location of the graves.
For directions to the Zentralfriedhof itself, see the main cemetery article.
Address: Zentralfriedhof, Simmeringer Hauptstraße 234, 1110 Vienna