Which classical composer's skull went missing from his grave?
Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn’s funeral took place on 15th June 1809 in Vienna. Hundsturm cemetery, where they interred his body, is now known as Haydnpark, although his employers, the Esterházy family, insisted on moving Haydn’s remains to Eisenstadt Palace in 1820. When they dug up Haydn’s body, they discovered his skull missing.
The furious family deduced the stolen skull was the work of Joseph Carl Rosenbaum and Johann Nepomuk Peter. The two men, who had a strong interest in phrenology, a discredited science, believed they could ascertain Haydn’s genius by measuring the bumps and shape of the skull. Whilst the family was correct in their assumption, the men returned to them a different head, secretly keeping Haydn’s for their studies.
When Rosenbaum died, Haydn’s skull passed from person to person until it became the possession of the Vienna Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of the Friends of Music). Learning of this, the Esterházy family set out to reunite Haydn’s head with his body, although this took many years to arrange. Eventually, in 1954, 145 years after the composer’s death, they finally restored Haydn’s head. Not knowing what to do with the substitute skull, the family left it in the tomb, thus Haydn’s final resting place contains two skulls.
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was one of the most famous composers in the Classical music period and is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet".