From lunch, the group decided to head over to the Central Cemetery, otherwise known as “Zentralfriedhof,” in Vienna. It seems weird to me that I wanted to go to a cemetery so badly, but I really wanted to visit it for a few reasons. You see, I took piano for 13 years and you don’t take piano lessons without ever playing the classical pieces by Beethoven, Strauss and Mozart. Music has been a huge part of my life and those classical pieces really shaped who I was when I was younger. Partially because it was beautiful and taught me appreciation of music, but also because the pieces were hard to learn and really taught me persistence and how to stick with something. So having the opportunity to go see where some of these musical heavy hitters were resting seemed like the most obvious thing to do. Plus, how can you say no to seeing a cemetery that has three train stops and has graves of people from the 1700s and 1800s? It’s history yo.
We grabbed the train and got off at the first entrance to the cemetery and began walking through the grounds. This place is…breathtaking. It’s beautifully kept, and the amount of history that is present is mind-blowing. There are separate sections throughout the cemetery for different parts of history. The composers, producers and musicians are located together for the most part. As we walked, I just stared at the dates, the words and the intricate headstones and then we arrived at the composers. I stood in front of Beethoven’s headstone, a monument for Mozart, the headstones for both the Strauss’ and Brahms.
Graveyards are always a weird experience for me because it’s where life has ended and it’s the final marker for that person on this earth. But standing at those graves, it didn’t feel like that because I still listen to their music, I still play their music and they’re still influencing me to this day. I’m not sure I can quite explain in words how this felt, but it did feel good and I felt honored to get that opportunity. After that, we continued to walk through the cemetery and it was so interesting to see all these headstones of people. But the part that really impacted me where the headstones with red x’s on them. These were markers for the headstones of people who no longer had someone who cared for them and the plots were officially up for sale.
It was strange to see because these are the people who were once deeply loved, and now, their final resting place has been marked “for sale” because no one is left to tend to them. It was a weird feeling to realize that at some point, people stop caring and then it might become that it is the moment you are forgotten. As disturbing as that moment was, it was also strangely motivating to the extent that it reminded me that I want to leave a mark. A mark on this world that can’t be sold. A mark that can still be remembered long after I’m gone. Time to figure out what that is…