Beethoven's first setting of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Neue Liebe, neues Leben was sketched in 1792, completed in 1799, and printed in Bonn by Simrock in 1808 as WoO 127, along with the Opferlied, WoO 126, and Der freie Mann, WoO 117. Beethoven later revised Neue Liebe, neues Leben for publication as part of Op. 75, and in so doing created one of his most advanced through-composed art songs. It is the only song in Op. 75 in this format.
Goethe's poem describes a man in whom new life has been awakened by new love. His heart does not behave as it used to, and when he tries to free it from the bonds of love he wishes only to return to the bondage. As the poem closes, the narrator complains that the girl holds him "against his will," and he begs to be set free from love.
Beethoven's first setting of "Neue Liebe, neues Leben" is very much like the one he would later publish as part of Op. 75. In 6/8 time, the melody of the first verse has the same shape and rhythm of the later version, but without the chromatic inflections. Also, the brief piano aside separating "Ach, wie kannst du nur dazu?" from the rest of the verse, thus emphasizing it, appears only in the repeat of the first verse. The opening of the second verse, including the piano passages, Beethoven retained in the later version, as he did the overall formal structure: the first two verses appear twice, but with slight melodic and harmonic differences the second time around, before the third and final verse. The greatest changes Beethoven made between his first and second settings were to the third verse, which in the first setting has a melody with a very narrow range and a much lower tessitura than in the second. Also, the ending is not nearly as abrupt here as in the later version.
(John Palmer, Rovi)