Время создания: лето 1792 - весна 1793 гг.
Посвящено: Eleonore von Breuning
Thema. Allegretto - Variazioni I-XII - Coda
Published in July 1793 by Artaria in Vienna, the set of Variations, WoO. 40, is dedicated to Eleonore von Breuning (1771-1841), who briefly studied music with Beethoven. Beethoven's dedication of the variations to a member of a family closely associated with his own suggests that he at least began the work while still in Bonn. It is known that he completed the set in Vienna under Haydn's supervision.
Beethoven sent von Breuning a copy of the Variations, WoO. 40 with a note explaining his reason for publishing them. Beethoven felt that another composer/pianist in Vienna was intent on copying his style and passing it off as his own. Beethoven decided to forestall this person by arranging to have his own work printed. Furthermore, he wanted the work to be technically difficult, thus embarrassing other Viennese pianists, "some of whom are my sworn enemies." It seems then, that Beethoven required only about seven months in the Hapsburg capital to acquire "sworn enemies."
Artaria's publication of the set was only one of many such compositions, the publishing house's catalogue of which attests to the popularity of Mozart's music in the years immediately following his death. One unusual feature of this particular publication, however, is that the title page describes the work as Beethoven's "Oeuvre I." Because Artaria never gave such numbers to variations we can only assume this was done at Beethoven's request. It seems the young composer later changed his mind, publishing the Trios, Op. 1, as his first major work.
Beethoven's Variations on "Se vuol ballare" are of the ornamental type typical of his early works and of the high-Classical style in general. In a nod to tradition, Beethoven writes a repeat for the last eight measures of the theme and maintains this in every variation, despite the fact that Mozart's melody was not composed this way.
From the first variation, Beethoven expands the range of the melody through broad arpeggios in the piano part as the violin outlines the predominant harmonies. The second and third variations return to the narrow range of the theme, although the rhythm is greatly altered. Rapid scales characterize the fourth and fifth variations, in which the theme is carefully dissected. The sixth and seventh variations are in the minor mode, the seventh presenting the tune in a straightforward fashion with a few surprising harmonies. The pianist alone performs the ninth variation while the eleventh features parallel playing between the two instruments. The piano part of the coda, in which the pianist must use the right hand to play a trill and melodic notes simultaneously, may be one of the passages Beethoven hoped would embarrass his "enemies."
(John Palmer, Rovi, answers.com)