Joseph Kraus's Grave
The composer known as the "Swedish Mozart" arranged to be buried in an unusual spot.
In a quiet corner of the Piper’s Park section of Tivoli Park in Solna, Sweden, there’s a single grave that stands out both for its isolated location, and for the notable person who is buried there.
Joseph Martin Kraus was an influential composer who worked mostly on large symphonies, having written dozens of them. He was born in Germany but moved to Sweden in 1778 at the age of 21, after being encouraged that he might find work inside the royal court of Gustav III, a known music fan.
It took Kraus two years before he broke through and was able to present a performance of one of his compositions at the Ulriksdal Palace Theatre before the king and the royal household. The king was pleased with the music and decided to send Kraus on a Grand Tour to observe the latest trends in music theater across Europe. Following his return to Sweden, Kraus wrote many more symphonies for the king, with the final one being a funeral piece performed at the royal’s funeral in 1792.
Kraus’s own health deteriorated not long after, and he died of tuberculosis just seven months after the king. Normally he would have been buried in the city cemetery, but he had made it known that he had very specific wishes for his funeral: He wanted to be buried not in a cemetery, but in Tivoli Park, after his coffin had been carried over the ice of the frozen Brunnsviken lake by torchlight. On his grave monument is an inscription that translates as: “Here lies the earthly remains of Kraus, the heavenly lives in his music.”
It’s believed that a good portion of Kraus’s musical legacy has been lost over time, with only about a dozen of his symphonies remaining. Still, his influence on classical music is considered to be quite large. That, coupled with the fact that he was a contemporary of Mozart’s and also died young, led to him being nicknamed the “Swedish Mozart.”
Know Before You Go
The grave monument is freely accessible in Tivoli Park. There is a sign next to the monument with information and a link that lets you listen to one of Kraus's pieces on your phone.
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