Speech Given at the Reburial of Ludwig Van Beethoven in the Central Cemetery in Vienna on June 22, 1888

Article excerpt

Having created immortal works for the refreshment of mortals, the genius leaves his rotten covering like shed clothing and swings himself over into the other world.

With gratitude and pious awe, we put his remains to bed in the earth, keeping them in loyal care, and honor the genius and his eternal legacy in the last remnants of his transient human appearance.

Sixty-one years ago, on a raw day in March, Ludwig van Beethoven was buried at the local cemetery of Währing. At the cemetery wall, close to the grave of the deceased, the master of oratory Heinrich Anschütz spoke the glorious words that the author of 'Sappho [Grillparzer] had put into his mouth1 and the announcement of them sounded like organ music

"You have not lost him, you have won him. Nobody enters the halls of immortality alive. The body must fall, only then the halls' portals open. From now on, the one you mourn stands among the greatest of all times, forever untouchable."

And today, on a day in June, we again freed the masters mortal remains from his grave in Wahring and carried them in a solemn procession through the town he chose for his home. The grandsons and great-grandsons of those among whom he had lived and worked bowed their heads in awe as before the corpse of a king.

Here in this immeasurable field of corpses, we bury Ludwig van Beethoven today. Next to Wolfgang Mozart, whose grave covers not his bones but the shameful reproach for his contemporaries who, having received his masterpieces, lacked due regard for preserving his ashes-next to Franz Schubert, Vienna's son of inexhaustibly rich melodies, who, himself dose to death, once stood as a disciple with tears in his eyes and pain in his heart at the master's grave.

From now on, may whatever is left of Ludwig van Beethoven's earthly remains find its last resting place here, surrounded by thousands and thousands of people who, while still on this earth, pronounced his name full of awe and who gratefully owed the most blessed and uplifting hours of their lives to his creations. …