It is a measure of Schubert's astonishing versatility that this little song was composed soon after the famous Der Tod und das Mädchen
, and only a little before the epic Ossian setting Die Nacht
(Volume 6), and Ganymed
. It was only in his imagination that the composer could roam the Scottish moors and the Elysian fields of the two last-named songs, but surely here is a milieu with which he was all too familiar—the schoolroom. Even the music has the look of a contrapuntal exercise. By this time Schubert had broken free of the drudgery of teaching at his father's school, but it was still, in a way, the family business, and Ferdinand Schubert was still there, adding new words to his brother's tunes to make music suitable for the young. It is surely not impossible that Schubert's willingness to provide music for friends to sing, could well have extended to his former pupils, who were still his brother's charges. The very title suggests the litany of the classroom: the old-fashioned harmony underlines old-fashioned values, and although one is sure that Schubert was no stringent disciplinarian, the little interlude wags and jabs fingers of emphatic authority. In his own sturdy way the poet's gratitude for the beauties of life is no less than Ganymede's. As is often the case with music of this genre one is reminded of the tone of an earthy and wise character from Shakespeare, with his feet firmly on the ground.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1989