• John Joubert
  • Four Stations On The Road To Freedom (1972)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Composed for the 1992 season of Westmorland Concerts commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Music.
1. Discipline
2. Action
3. Suffering
4. Death

Programme Note

John Joubert: Four Stations on the Road to Freedom, Op. 73

These four prose-poems were written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian, while a prisoner of the Gestapo for his complicity in the movement to rid Germany of the Nazi regime. They form part of a collection entitled 'Letter and Papers from a Prison', which were discovered and published after his execution by the Gestapo in 1945. The Stations on the Road to Freedom were written after the news of the failure of the attempt on Hitler's life in July 1944, an event which must have convinced Bonhoeffer that his own end was near.

Each 'Station' is characterised by a key-word which I have matched with a corresponding musical interval. Thus 'Discipline' is characterised by a 4th, 'Action' by a major 7th, 'Suffering' by a major 2nd and 'Death' by a perfect 5th. These key-intervals form pedal-points and, by duplication at different pitches, 8-note chords. These chords are, in addition, vertical forms of the 8-note row on which each 'Station' is built. When the key-words recur together in the final Station the different key-intervals are superimposed, this time on each other, to form the climax of the work.

© John Joubert

Prose poem Stations on the Road to Freedom written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer a few months before his death, and translated by Frank Clarke.


If you set out to seek freedom, then learn above all things to govern your soul and your senses, for fear that your passions and longings may lead you away from the path you should follow.
Chaste be your mind and your body, and both in subjection, obediently, steadfastly seeking the aim set before them; only through discipline may a man learn to be free.


Daring to do what is right, not what fancy may tell you valiantly grasping occasions, not cravenly doubting - freedom comes only through deeds, not through thoughts taking wing. Faint not nor fear, but go out to the storm and the action, Trusting in God whose commandment you faithfully follow; freedom exultant will welcome your spirit with joy.


A change has come indeed. Your hands, so strong and active, are bound; in helplessness now you see your action is ended; you sigh in relief, you cause committing to stronger hands; so now you may rest contented. Only for one blissful moment could you draw near to touch freedom; then that it might be perfected in glory, you gave it to God.


Come now thou greatest of feasts on the journey to freedom eternal; death, cast aside all the burdensome chains, and demolish the walls of our temporal body, the walls of our souls that are blinded, so that at last we may see that which here remains hidden. Freedom how long we have sought thee is discipline, action and suffering; dying we now may behold thee revealed in the Lord.