My Vienna: the Biedermeier St. Marx Cemetery
Above/featured: Spring morning at Vienna’s Biedermeier cemetery.
In Vienna’s 3rd district, the St. Marx cemetery is the only surviving Biedermeier cemetery in the city. A visit now is a jump into the frozen past. The cemetery opened with its first burial in 1784. Closure of the city’s multiple neighbourhood cemeteries began in 1873 with the final burial at St. Marx taking place in 1874. Subsequent funerary functions were transferred to the newly constructed Zentralfriedhof located farther out from the city centre. The very leafy avenues and “leafy gate” are what’s left of the city’s only remaining 18th-century cemetery that’s now open to the public as a city-administered park.
Biedermeier in Vienna corresponds to a cultural period during the first half of the 19th-century marked by increased industrialization in rapidly urbanized areas and strict censorship with the elimination of dissenting political voices. Instead of looking outward to change, the artist and design community moved to safer spaces in nature or to their homes. While innovation might have given way to a modest yet graceful and functional style, Biedermeier architecture in its neoclassical spin provided inspiration for subsequent Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) and Secession movements. An important Viennese architect of the period was Josef Kornhäusel who designed many buildings in the city. Important music from this period was composed by, for example, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Schubert, Schumann. One of the largest collections of Viennese Biedermeier art is in the Belvedere’s collection. St. Marx cemetery is a reflection of both city and age from the 19th-century.
- Johann Philipp COBENZL
- Friedhofskreuz (cemetery cross)
- Anna GOTTLIEB
- Josef KORNHÄUSEL
- Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
- Alois NEGRELLI
- Alois Ludwig PICHL
- Josef STRAUSS, Anna STRAUSS
- TOTENGRÄBER (gravediggers)
The indicated numbers correspond to locations marked in the cemetery map (Lageplan) that’s available from Wikipedia.
Johann Philipp, Graf von Cobenzl (#31)
• b/✵ 28 May 1741, d/✟ 30 Aug 1810.
• Austrian statesman, count (Graf)
• After 1773, the family purchased land and former Jesuit property on Reisenberg. Mozart stayed with the Cobenzls, and drawing inspiration from the surroundings, he began composing “Die Zauberflöte” (The Magic Flute).
Friedhofskreuz / cemetery cross (#42)
Anna Gottlieb (#207)
• b/✵ 29 Apr 1774, d/✟ 4 Feb 1856.
• At the age of 17, Viennese soprano Anna Gottlieb was the first to take on the role of Pamina in the Mozart opera “Die Zauberflöte” (The Magic Flute, K.620), which debut on 30 September 1791 in Vienna. When Gottlieb was buried at St. Marx cemetery in 1856, family vaults and individual gravestones were becoming the norm.
Josef Kornhäusel (#25)
• b/✵ 13 Nov 1782, d/✟ 31 Oct 1860.
• Important Biedermeier architect in Vienna, with e.g., Mechitaristenkirche, Schottenhof, Stadttempel, Theater in der Josefstadt, Villa Jenamy; buildings in Baden bei Wien.
• Remains exhumed, moved, and reburied at Zentralfriedhof with a grave of honour in 1934.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (#179)
• b/✵ 27 Jan 1756, d/✟ 5 Dec 1791.
• As with all non-royal (and non-rich) burials of the time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was buried at St. Marx cemetery in 1791 in a common individual’s grave. The exact location of his burial was believed lost until 1859, when a monument created by Hanns Gasser was placed at the best “guesstimate” position of Mozart’s grave. In 1891 on the 100th anniversary of Mozart’s death, Gasser’s memorial was moved to the Zentralfriedhof (central cemetery). What appears now at St. Marx cemetery as the “Mourning Genius” and broken memorial column for Mozart were created by sculptor Florian Josephu-Drouot during a restoration of the site in 1950.
Alois Negrelli (#9)
• b/✵ 23 Jan 1799, d/✟ 1 Oct 1858.
• Civil engineer; bridge and railway construction.
• Planned and designed Suez Canal, but completed after his death.
• Remains exhumed, moved, and reburied at Zentralfriedhof with a grave of honour in 1929.
Alois Ludwig Pichl (#200)
• b/✵ 1782, d/✟ 19 May 1856.
• Architect; e.g., buildings in central Vienna incl. Erste österreichische Spar-Casse, Palais Modena, Palais Niederösterreich.
Josef Strauss (#7)
• Composer Josef Strauss and his mother Anna.
• Josef Strauss: b/✵ 20 Aug 1827, d/✟ 22 Jul 1870.
• Anna Strauss (née Streim): b/✵ 30 Aug 1801, d/✟ 23 Feb 1870.
• All remains dug up, moved, and reburied at Zentralfriedhof with a grave of honour in 1909.
Totengräber / Gravediggers’ Graves (#149)
The story goes: gravedigger Joseph Rothmeyer who apparently buried Mozart dug out the grave to make room for new graves; Rothmeyer’s successor was Joseph Löffler. The “terrible” ironies are: Simon Preuschl, employed at St. Marx cemetery from 1786 to 1802, was the actual gravedigger who buried Mozart (according to G. Gugitz in 1934), and that Rothmeyer’s grave location is better known than Mozart’s grave location.
Public transport with Wiener Linien to St. Marx station (St. Marx S): bus 74A, S-Bahn S7 train, tram 18, or tram 71. From St. Marx station, walk southeast on Leberstrasse for 0.5 kilometre to the cemetery’s front gate. Admission into the cemetery is free of charge, and opening hours vary with season. A cemetery map with guide to key graves is found on Wikipedia.
( View map location at OpenStreetMap )
I made all photos above with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime on 20 May 2022. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-n0r.
• Gugitz, G., “Mozarts Schädel und Dr. Gall“, Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft, vol. 16 (16. Jg.), pp. 32–39 (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1934). Available from the Internet Archive: <https://archive.org/details/ZeitschriftFuerMusikwissenschaft16jg1934/page/31/mode/2up> [accessed Mar 2023].
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