The four year post

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Work data
Title: The four year post
Shape: Singspiel
Original language: German
Music: Franz Schubert ( D 190)
Libretto : Theodor Körner
Premiere: September 23, 1896
Place of premiere: Dresden
Playing time: about 50 minutes
Place and time of the action: a German border village in 1809
  • Käthchen, a farmer's daughter ( soprano )
  • Duval, her husband ( tenor )
  • Walter, Käthchens father, farmer and village judge ( baritone )
  • Veit, a farmer (tenor)
  • Captain of the French troops (tenor)
  • General of the French Army ( speaking role )
  • Soldiers and Villagers ( Choir )

The four-year-old post is an active Singspiel (= small opera with spoken dialogues) by Franz Schubert . The libretto , entirely in verse with rhymes, was Theodor Körner for the composer Carl Steinacker written, the setting was premiered in Vienna on 19 August 1813th Schubert's setting was made in 1815 - he was 18 years old at the time. However, it did not experience its premiere until September 23, 1896 in the Dresden Court Opera (today: Semperoper ) - almost 68 years after Schubert's death.

Körner's libretto was set to at least 21 different settings, making it one of the most successful attempts to transfer the French Opéra comique to German conditions. The conciliatory component following the Wars of Liberation and the reference to the fact that cadaver obedience could bring individual advantages to subjects are characteristic of the political and social climate of the Biedermeier period .


Four years ago, the young French soldier Duval left his post at the border on his own initiative and went to the German side. There he met the farmer's daughter Käthchen, with whom he has been married for two years.

Now French troops are on the march again, specifically the unit from which Duval has strayed illegally. Käthchen and her father fear the worst: desertion is ultimately the death penalty! Then Duval had the idea of ​​claiming that he had been serving as a border post for four years in the faithful fulfillment of his duties.

The captain of the French troops is completely unimpressed and has Duval brought before a court martial. Then the general appears as Deus ex Machina . He believes Duval's words and ensures that he is honorably discharged from the army and that he can continue to be happy as a farmer with his Käthchen.


Parts of the Singspiel are included in the following work, which takes up the case of Hans Ernst Schneider :


  • Han Theill: Foreword in: The four year old post - Fernando . Published by Han Theill. Score. Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel et al. 1992, (Franz Schubert: New edition of all works series 2, vol. 2).
  • Till Gerrit Waidelich: “The four year old post” by Theodor Körner as a libretto “like a finale” for 21 operas . In: Dietrich Berke (ed.): Franz Schubert - work and reception . Report on the International Schubert Congress Duisburg 1997. Part 2: Stage and orchestral works, chamber and piano music . Bärenreiter, Kassel 2000, ISBN 3-7618-1477-1 , ( Schubert-Jahrbuch 1998), pp. 57-77.

Web links

Individual evidence