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Die Knabenzeit, D400

First line:
Wie glücklich, wem das Knabenkleid
first published in 1895 in the Gesamtausgabe
author of text

Here is another delightful, if slight, moment of nostalgia for childhood. If this setting lacks the melodic charm of Die frühe Liebe it nevertheless has a similar freshness enhanced by its breezy A major tonality and the tricky high-lying tessitura. It is as if the composer has an unbroken voice in mind when he wrote the music. There is no-one so nostalgic for his youth than a nineteen-year-old who, though only just leaving it, thinks himself old and experienced beyond measure. The warning for the younger generation is entirely apposite coming from a composer so recently freed from the 'cramped classroom' and 'a fat tome of Cicero.' The four strophes give ample opportunity to the performers to vary the mood from games of soldiers, chasing butterflies and sweating over Latin. The accompaniment is in running semiquavers which flutter after the running boy, just like his coat, at 'um die Schultern fliegt'. The postlude dancing up and down the right-hand stave can be playfully phrased in lighthearted manner but its foursquare structure can be also made to suit the pedantry implied by the last verse. Despite this hint of harsh schoolboy suffering, what a contrast this young scholar is to the archetypal student depicted in Shakespeare's famous 'Seven Ages of man' speech from As You Like It:

And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school'.

Schubert seems incapable of whining (wining was another matter), and that is one of his glories.

The autograph appends a different vocal line for the first four bars. In the Gesamtausgabe, Mandyczewski treated this as an alternative, which he printed in the Revsionbericht; but the second Deutsch catalogue prints it as Schubert's preference. We have chosen to record the Gesamtausgabe version.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1995


Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 23 - Christoph Prégardien
CDJ33023Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40


Track 16 on CDJ33023 [2'05] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 17 on CDS44201/40 CD14 [2'05] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

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