This is another song about nostalgia for childhood, which certainly seems to be a sub-theme of some of the 1816 songs. As his diary entries for the year show, the young composer, hardly out of his own childhood, was inclined to wax philosophical about his past. He was certainly not yet in his autumn as Köpken claims to be. The song is merry and breezy (not easy to sing in its original key of C) and has a notable succession of dotted rhythms in the accompaniment. These are meant to depict the excited stirrings of the childlike imagination, but they put one in mind of a rocking-horse cantering through the terrain of childhood as in Aus alten Märchen
, the song from Schumann's Dichterliebe
about the power of children's fairy-tales. For those connoisseurs of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas the opening tune has the lilt of 'When a felon's not engaged in his employment' from The Pirates of Penzance
. Arthur Sullivan was a great Schubertian after all. For some reason, when this song was first printed in the Peters Edition Max Kalbeck provided a second verse (of appalling sentimentality) despite the fact that the original poem printed in the Gesamtausgabe
has more than enough verses.
Friedrich von köpken was born in Magdeburg where he was trained as a lawyer. He became a literary critic and a translator; he was an expert in the French theatre. He was exceedingly shy about publishing the poems which he wrote for his own personal enjoyment and his first collection of lyrics was printed as late as 1792. He was friendly with Klopstock and Uz whose settings stand beside his Freunde der Kinderjahre on this disc. Köpken dedicated what he regarded as his most important work Hymnus auf Gott (1788) to Klopstock. Schubert set only one poem by Köpken. It is not certain which edition of the poems (or possibly almanac) the composer used.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1995