Decomposers rave from the grave

The world’s most famous dead composers like Beethoven and Schubert are to be brought back to life by QR headstones that will play their works to passers by.

Officials at Vienna’s Central Cemetery in Austria are to place QR – or Quick Response – codes on the musicians’ tombstones so anyone with a smart-phone can interact with them.

The graveyard is home to some of classical music’s biggest names like Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Johan Strauss II and Mozart’s rival Antonio Salieri.

As an enduring tribute to a life lived, gravestones there as elsewhere have changed little over the centuries – until now.

It is the most high profile sign of how funeral directors are giving headstones a modern makeover – by making them interactive.

The plan will be implemented next year as part of an EU funded project in which the famous graves in the Austrian capital will get the QR treatment.

Jörg Bauer whose company Aspetos  offers the service in Austria said: “When scanned on a smart phone, the square codes – known as Quick Response or QR codes – launch a website which contains a biography of the deceased.”

The QR codes will also allow some of the music from the composers to be played – although organisers urge that people respect the peace of the dead and use headphones to listen to the tunes.

The only composer not buried at the cemetery – Mozart – was buried at a location elsewhere in the city but he does have a memorial in the Zentralfriedhof – and he will get a QR code as well.

Under the project barcodes are being placed on the gravestones to allow visitors to find out more about the person laid to rest there – and that is not ‘just for the famous.

The page can also include a profile of the person, photographs and videos of them and tributes from family and friends.

For private users their loved ones can use a password to create and update the website and add more comments or memories as time goes by.

The idea enables visitors to graveyards to learn more about those buried there than just their name, age and date of birth.

If they know the password, they can even add their own tributes.

As well as graves, the QR codes can be added to memorials and tribute plaques on benches.

The online portal Aspetos that runs the service in Austria offers the IT support for free – the family of the deceased only have to pay the cost of putting the QR code on the grave.