A new way of looking at things
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of looking at things.” –  Henry Miller

Curt Veeneman, Ph.D.


Vienna's Zentralfriedhof

16 May 2014



Today we shall be paying a visit to one of the most exclusive addresses in Vienna, but don’t expect anyone to answer the door.  Our destination?  Vienna’s main cemetery, the Zentralfriedhof.  I hope that you will come to agree, after reading the descriptions and perusing the photos below, that this locale can be one of the most beautiful in Vienna.

The Zentralfriedhof — the name means, literally, ‘central peace courtyard’, Friedhof being the German term for cemetery — is the largest of Vienna's nearly 50 cemeteries.

Even so, the name does not designate the cemetery’s geographic setting, its location being in the periphery of Vienna in the district of Simmering, but rather the cemetery’s significance.

The cemetery covers 2.4 square kilometers, with more than 3.3 million interred there (almost twice the population of living residents in Vienna), with up to 20-25 burials daily.

The cemetery was originally served by the old Simmering horse tram, which in 1901 was replaced by an electric tram.  This tram was renumbered as "71" (der 71er) in 1907.  Among the Viennese, a popular euphemism for death is that the deceased person, "Er hat den 71er genommen [has taken the 71]."

The main entrance  is at Tor 2 [Gate 2], at Simmeringer Hauptstraße 234.  Within the Zentralfriedhof there is a group of graves known as the Ehrengräber [honorary graves], where many of the graves of the famous deceased of Vienna may be found.  These are grouped into four main sections: Group 32A, Group 32C, Group 33G and Group 40, and we shall be discussing below some of the composers whose graves may be found in these groups.




The plan of the Zentralfriedhof



A map of section 32A of the Zentralfriedhof


 Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827):  Group 32A, Grave 29

In 1888, after the Währinger Cemetery was closed, both Beethoven and Schubert were re-exhumed and moved to the Zentralfriedhof.  Anton Bruckner was present at that time and he lost a lens from his pince-nez, which apparently had fallen among Beethoven’s bones!



Johannes Brahms (1833–1897):  Group 32A, Grave 26

 Brahms’ grave is within a few steps of that of the composer he most admired — Beethoven.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791):  Group 32A, Grave 55

This is simply a memorial, as Mozart’s actual remains are lost in an unmarked grave in Vienna’s St. Marx Cemetery.




The entrance to the St. Marx Cemetery, where Mozart is buried



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

This is the memorial to Mozart in the St. Marx Cemetery (where Mozart is actually buried, but the exact location within the cemetery is unknown), about six kilometers away from the Zentralfriedhof.



Franz Schubert (1797–1828):  Group 32A, Grave 28

Schubert had requested to be buried on the outskirts of Vienna in Währinger Cemetery, two plots away from Beethoven’s grave.  But in1863 both composers were reburied next to each other in the Zentralfriedhof.



Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714–1787):  Group 32A, Grave 49

Although Gluck was famous in Paris as a composer of operas, he retired in Vienna.  His remains were moved to Zentralfriedhof in 1923 to be among Vienna’s most honored musicians.




The mausoleum of the Zentralfriedhof


Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825–1899):  Group 32A, Grave 27

Johann Strauss, Jr., was the most famous member of the waltz family.  In this group are also included . . .

. . . the father of Johann Strauss, Jr., Johann Strauss I (1804–1849):  Group 32A, Grave 15 . . .

. . . and Johann Strauss’ I other two sons, Eduard Strauss (1835–1916):  Group 32A, Grave 42 . . .

. . .and Josef Strauss (1827–1870):  Group 32A, Grave 44



Nearby are the plots of . . .

Franz von Suppé (1819–1895):  Group 32A, Grave 31

Suppé was an Austrian composer of light operas.



and Hugo Wolf (1860–1903):  Group 32A, Grave 10

This Austrian composer of Lieder (art songs) is perhaps the best-known for his 51 Goethe-Lieder.




A map of sections 33G and 32C of the Zentralfriedhof where Schönberg, Ligeti, and Zawinul are buried




Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951): Group 32C, Grave 21A

This monument, sculpted by Fritz Wotruba, is as modernistic in form as Arnold Schönberg’s music sounded.



Falco [Johann (Hans) Hölzel] (1957–1998):  Group 40 Grave 64

The rock singer, most famous for the hit “Rock Me, Amadeus,” died in a road accident in 1998.



Nearby are the graves of . . .

György Ligeti (1923–2006): Group 33 Grave

This a glass monolith is a fitting monument for the contemporary composer whose music was used in used in “2001: A Space Odyssey." Ligeti is considered one of the most innovative composers of the second half of the 20th century.


. . . and

Joe Zawinul (1932–2007) Group 33 Grave 39

Two plots down from Ligeti’s grave is that of Joe Zawinul, Austrian jazz keyboardist and composer who performed with Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis, also co-founded the group Weather Report.



Also to be found in the Zentralfriedhof are the graves of piano teacher and composer Carl Czerny (1791–1857), composer Karl Goldmark (1830–1915), opera singer Lotte Lehmann (1888–1976), composer Antonio Salieri (1750–1825), and composer Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871–1942), among many other musicians.

There are two other graves that deserve mentioning, but lie a bit farther afield (about seven kilometers in the opposite direction of the Zentralfriedhof), at the Grinzinger Friedhof:


Gustav Mahler (1860-1911):  Group 6, Row 7, Number 1

Mahler, late-Romantic composer of massive symphonies, was an influence on the Second Viennese School.



. . . and

Alma Mahler Werfel (1879–1964:) Group 6, Row 6, Number 7

Alma Mahler  was the wife, successively, of composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and novelist Franz Werfel.



Last, deserving mention here in connection with the Grinzinger Friedhof, is the pianist Paul Wittgenstein (1887–1961), who lost his right arm during the First World War.  (He was the older brother of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.)  Left-handed piano works were composed for him by Benjamin Britten, Paul Hindemith, Erich Korngold, Sergei Prokofiev, and Richard Strauss.  Perhaps the most famous work associated with Wittgenstein is Piano Concerto for the Left Hand by Maurice Ravel.



Next:  Viennese composer homes and monuments






The photographs used in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are by Curt Veeneman.

Related Posts (Austria)

Who started Travel Con Brio®?

Composer, scholar (in music theory, ethnomusicology, and music history), performer, educator, conference organizer, and entrepreneur, Curt Veeneman received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

His additional interests, subsumed in wonder at the beauty of God’s entire creation, include art (he was an art major before the balance tipped ever-so-slightly toward music), literature, architecture, photography, mathematics, history, languages, cultural studies, world-cuisines, and, of course, travel.
photograph by Colleen Veeneman

In founding Travel Con Brio®, Curt was eager to synthesize all of these interests to create imaginative, stirring, and enlightening experiences to be enjoyed by both young and mature travelers alike.  The tours that he organizes reflect his extensive travel experience and familiarity with the art, music and culture of numerous countries, with each tour being richly enhanced by local experts.

Curt and his wife Colleen live near San Francisco.  They have three children.

What is this blog about?

Culled from a number of trips abroad, this blog compiles various experiences in an attempt to reveal the cultural nuances of places visited on Travel Con Brio® tours.  Sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, Curt’s observations are intended to describe and appreciate the personalities, character, idiosyncrasies, conventions, mood, and ambiance of places visited.  Contemplations of topics ranging from language and customs to climate and bureaucracies are freely offered alongside art and music reviews.  Any cultural issue, if illuminating, can become the focus.

These musings on the personal impact of various cultures are offered so that you, as a traveler, may compare and contrast your own impressions with them.  Do you share a similar interest?  Do you agree with a specific conclusion?  Or is there a fine distinction to be made regarding a particular point?  You are invited to leave your comments; please, however, be respectful of other readers.

And last, a caveat:  flukes, asymmetries, and twists of fate may suggest more about Curt than about any foreign culture under discussion.

What are some of Curt Veeneman’s musical activities?

As a composer, Curt has spoken and/or his works have been performed throughout the United States, in Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Bulgaria.  He is the winner of several awards, including the ASCAP-Hubbell Award for composition.

Curt Veeneman's compositions include Les Cloches, inspired by the life of Joan of Arc (premièred by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra), The Wiry Concord for 5-string banjo, dulcimer, cimbalom, harp, harpsichord, piano, viola and percussion (available on Capstone Records), Mountain Thyme, based on Bulgarian folk music (recorded by the Sofia Symphony Orchestra), Alcuin's Riddle, for orchestra and 15 soloists who cross the “audience-river,” Hommage for voice, flute, 'cello, piano, and percussion, Windmills, computer music featuring sampled wind turbines on California's Altamont Pass, and Pneuma for solo flute, (also available on Capstone Records).

Of this last work, the following comments have been made:  “J’ai beaucoup apprécié le lyrisme et la rigueur de Pneuma pour flûte de Curt Veeneman”  (I greatly appreciate the lyricism and the precision of Curt Veeneman’s Pneuma for flute) —Gérard Condé, Le Monde, Paris, 29 August 1996; “a well written piece”  — Robert Dick, flutist, author of The Other Flute; “it is quite exciting!” — Molly Alicia Barth of eighth blackbird; and “strong and imaginative” — Jules Langert, San Francisco Classical Voice, 13 March 2006.

As a new music promoter, he directed the new music ensemble Sonor Borealis at University of Alberta, Canada, and founded and directed the concert series, PACIFIC MARKET: Fresh Music From Around The World, at the University of the Pacific.  As a performer, Curt Veeneman is recorded on Music and Arts.

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