The beginning of May is the lilac blossom time. A „Must“ to see during this period in Vienna is the St. Marx cemetery (Leberstrasse 6-8). This is the only remaining Biedermeier cemetery in Vienna. Here you will find not only the amethyst beauty and strong nice smell of blossoming lilac but also a nostalgic atmosphere of the gone past.
Gravestones with ornamental inscriptions or already without them, solid crosses, vases with flowing cloth, angels, whose faces or wings were washed away by wind and rain. Without wings, they look like the unfortunate Icarus. Watching them I doubt if those ones who lie here have at least once during their lives tried to fly upwards, touch the sun or cross their own shadows…
Angels are holding an extinguished torch, the book of history or a trumpet of fate.
And blossoming lilacs are all around. I do not think I know any other place with so many lilac bushes. They have the same colour as amethyst which has always been regarded as a symbolic connection between heaven and earth. Its violet colour is a combination of red – representing the power of life – and blue – the colour of spirit and peace.
The cemetery was in use from 1784 until 1874. It is possible that all of those who used to come here to bring flowers or light candles have also died out already. Never mind. Nature “lights” magnificent lanterns and chandeliers in the form of gorgeous white and pink flowers of horse-chestnuts which also blossom at this time.
The enchanting cemetery is home to many important personages of Austrian history – authors, singers, architects, musicians, artists… Later their remains were moved to the Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof) but their gravestones remained here. However, here you can still find the final resting place of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
An angel is holding a torch in his left hand and leaning with his right hand against a broken column. Or is it an incomplete column? Reminding of the Requiem Mass which Mozart left unfinished? The angel‘s face is astonished as if he was not able to believe that in this modest place the musical genius would be resting – the man, who was competent on the piano by age three, on the violin one year later and by twelve he had composed three operas, six symphonies and some other works. Mozart died on December 5th, 1791. We do not say he was poor, we say he was without financial resources. His young widow with two children needed to repay all debts so she organized several memorial concerts and sold some of his manuscripts. Even today most people are not able to forgive her that she had accompanied her husband‘s coffin to the church door only and that she had ordered a cheap funeral for him where four bodies are put in one communal grave. But this was absolutely according to the tradition at those times. In addition, neither crosses nor gravestones were put on graves. After 17 years (!) Constanze decided to visit her husband‘s grave. But nobody was able to show her where exactly it was. And even today we do not know. The white angel with the column only marks a probable place. I am sure that is why the angel‘s look is such a look of disbelief.
And what happened to Mozart‘s family? Looking for the answer we have to go to Salzburg.
Seven children were born to Leopold and Anna Maria Mozart but only two of them survived – Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia, nicknamed Nannerl, and Wolfgang. Very soon the father had recognized what talents he had at home. Although a good education was not given to girls at those times he started to teach both children. Nannerl was an excellent piano player, she was capable to play even the most difficult sonatas with lightness. Her way of playing was perfect, with a strong expression. Mozart’s family went on a long European tour. The children – as child prodigies – performed at royal courts and in sumptuous palaces of the high aristocracy. They met many important people, everybody was admiring their talents and lavishing compliments and gifts on them. In their free time, they visited castles, galleries and theaters. Traveling gave them the possibility not only to present themselves and improve their abilities but also to broaden their horizons. This three-and-half-year tour was the most interesting and exciting period of Nannerl’s life. Unfortunately, the situation started to change very soon… The five years older sister started to mature. The father understood he could not present her as a child anymore. For Wolfgang the life had just begun, the whole world was spinning around him. But what to do with Nannerl? The audience would not accept a woman as a piano virtuoso yet, in the 2nd half of the 18th century. Instead of the career of a piano player, the only possibility was to give piano lessons to not very gifted girls from rich families. She did not travel anymore and had to accept the fact that there was no place for her in her father’s plans anymore. Only her very strong faith in God helped her to get over her fate. Nannerl even accepted her father’s wish to marry a much older, two-time widower with five children. Instead of playing the piano, she took care of her husband and their household. She spent 17 long years in the provincial small town of St. Gilgen. Wolfgang regularly composed piano compositions to her name days but with years the correspondence became sporadic. After their father’s death, the contact was cut off. The siblings did not see each other anymore. She returned to Salzburg and survived her brother by 38 years. According to her wish, she was buried in a communal grave at the St. Peter’s Cemetery (Petersfriedhof) in Salzburg which is the oldest cemetery in the town. It is located at the foot of the cliff Festungsberg with Hohensalzburger Castle which adds a very special atmosphere to this place.
And what happened to Mozart’s wife Constanze?
Four years after Aloysia Weber had broken Mozart’s heart Wolfgang decided to marry her sister Constanze. There was no fatal passion but he saw in her a woman who would provide for him with a warm bed and warm food. Mozart’s father did not like the Webers family and was not happy about his son’s choice. He hesitated to give his approval to the wedding. The situation became serious, especially when Wolfgang and Constanze started to live together which produced a lot of gossips. The tension was big, so they decided to marry. The wedding took place in the St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna but was very modest. It was on August 4th, 1782 and the father’s approval arrived one day later. However, he was not the only one to have a bad opinion about the bride. Most historians describe Constanze as a careless and selfish woman who was not able to maintain their household economically and save money for bad times. Mozart made a lot of money but he did not have a permanent job. His income was irregular while their way of life was very expensive. He was struggling with credits, threats and loan sharks his whole short life. Mozart had a reputation for his eccentricity – he had to have everything he wanted, especially luxurious items for those times: candles for all the rooms in their house, butter, tobacco, coffee or punch. And he was also using a lot of expensive music paper. The couple liked striking clothes and a hairdresser came every day to comb their wigs. They possessed expensive furniture, a concert grand and a billiard table. They both liked playing cards and attended every ball. But there was not only fun in their marital life. The money scattered very quickly and they had to ask for a loan. In nine years of their marriage, Constanze was six times pregnant but only two sons survived. After Mozart’s death Constanze married again in 1809 in Pressburg (today Bratislava). Her husband was the Danish diplomat Nicolaus von Nissen who helped her to complete the very first biography about her first husband. Even if historians blame her for some things, we have to be thankful for her collecting Mozart’s musical heritage.
Constanze spent the last years of her life again as a widow in Salzburg. She is buried there together with Nissen at the St Sebastian’s Cemetery (Sankt-Sebastianfriedhof). Mozart’s two sons never had married and had no children. It means that there is no direct descendant of the musical genius with the name of Mozart…