In 1774, writer, journalist, composer, and organist Christian Daniel Friedrich Schubart (1739–1791) began publication of the periodical Deutsche Chronik, which appeared twice weekly. In 1777, after having insulted Franziska von Hohenheim, the mistress (and later second wife) of Carl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg, Schubart was incarcerated in Hohenasperg fortress in Württemberg. He remained confined there until 1787. Although the Chronik continued to appear in 1778 (now as the Teutsche Chronik), publication seems to have been suspended after that point. Schubart resumed publication of the periodical in July 1787 after his release, initially under the title Schubarts Vaterländische Chronik, then Vaterlandschronik (1788–1789), then simply Chronik (1790–1791).
Schubart died on 10 Oct 1791, as reported by his son Ludwig in the issue of 11 Oct. Ludwig promised to continue publication of the Chronik “nach dem bisherigen Plan und im bisherigen Tone” (“according to the previous plan and tone”); true to his promise, the periodical continued to appear through at least the end of 1792 under the title Fortgesezte Schubart’sche Chronik.
The notice of Mozart’s death transcribed above is thus very likely by Ludwig Schubart. However, the reference to “Polihimnia’s Liebling” is wholly in his father’s style: in fact, his father had used that very phrase in 1784 in a laudatory ode to his jailer Carl Eugen, apparently intended to be read from the stage in Stuttgart on the occasion of Carl Eugen’s name day, 4 Nov 1784 (the feast of Carlo Borromeo); the ode seems not to have hastened Schubart’s release.
In ancient Greek mythology, Polyhymnia was the Muse of sacred poetry and hymns. References to Polyhymnia are not infrequent in Schubart’s writings. In the Chronik of 19 Nov 1790, for example, in describing the festivities in Heilbronn at the time of the coronation of Leopold II, Schubart refers to music composed by “D. Weber, ein Liebling der Polyhymnia, wie der Hygäa” (“Dr. Weber, a favorite of Polyhymnia, as well as Hygieia”), probably referring to the medical doctor Friedrich August Weber (1753–1806), an amateur composer.
Like many early notices of Mozart’s death, the one in the Chronik is not very accurate. Mozart was a little over 35 years and 10 months old at the time of his death, not 34, as stated in the Chronik. This error in Mozart’s age and the perplexing reference to “vier Quartetten” (four quartets) as his final compositions are in fact found together in several other early German and English notices of Mozart’s death. (See the notices in the Freytägige Frankfurter Kaiserl. Reichs-Ober-Post-Amts-Zeitung on 16 Dec 1791 and the Musikalische Korrespondenz on 28 Dec 1791, given in Neue Folge, 76 and 77–78. On 24 Dec 1791, the English Morning Post and Daily Advertiser reported Mozart’s death, giving his age as 36, but referring to “four pieces” completed just before his death; see our entry “Notices of Mozart’s death in various English periodicals”.) “Four quartets” seems to be a garbled reference to the impending publication by Artaria in Vienna in late Dec 1791 of the three “Prussian” quartets, K. 575, K. 589, and K. 590, which, however, Mozart had actually composed in 1789 and 1790.
In a passage omitted from the transcription here, the Chronik also notes the death in 1791 of “Präsident v. Hagen”. This apparently refers to Johann Hugo Freiherr von Hagen (see note 7 here), member of the Reichshofrat from 1735, its vice president from 1754, and its president from 1778. He died on 24 Nov 1791 in Vienna.
Mozart’s death is mentioned again in the Chronik (now the Fortgesezte Schubart’sche Chronik) in the issue of 13 Mar 1792, in a note following a report on the unexpected death of Emperor Leopold II on 1 Mar. The note reads:
Schon das vorige Jahr war ein Gerichtsjahr für
außerordentliche Menschen, denn da starben die: Mi=
rabeau, Potemkin, Michaelis, Karschin, Schubart,
Tischbein, Mozard, Semmler, Gemmingen, Born,
Pichler; soll dieses neue Jahr auch so fürchterlich un=
ter Geister greifen? [Chronik, 13 Mar 1792, 165]
Last year was already a year of judgment for
extraordinary people, for among the dead were:
Mirabeau, Potemkin, Michaelis, Karsch, Schubart,
Tischbein, Mozart, Semler, Gemmingen, Born,
Pichler; will this new year also grasp so
dreadfully among the great minds?
Besides Mozart, the famous names mentioned here are:
Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau (1749–1791), orator
Prince Grigory Potemkin (1739–1791), Russian military leader and statesman
Johann David Michaelis (1717–1791), theologian and Biblical scholar
Anna Louisa Karsch (1722–1791), poet
Christian Daniel Friedrich Schubart (1739–1791)
Johann Jacob Tischbein (1725–1791), painter (the “Lübecker Tischbein”)
Johann Salomo Semler (1725–1791), theologian
Eberhard Friedrich von Gemmingen (1726–1791), poet, composer, politician
Ignaz von Born (1742–1791), prominent Freemason
Giovanni Pichler (1734–1791), gem engraver