Composed in 1806, Beethoven's setting of "Als die Geliebte sich trennen wollte" (When my Beloved Wanted to Leave) was printed in 1809 by the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung in Leipzig. It also has been published with the title, "Empfindungen bei Lydiens Untreue" (Feelings About Lydia's Betrayal). The poem is by Stephan von Breuning (1774-1827) after a French text by François Benoit Hoffmann. Breuning, a childhood friend of Beethoven, would later revise the original text of Beethoven's Leonore, in thanks for which Beethoven dedicated his Violin Concerto, Op. 61, also composed in 1806, to Breuning.
Breuning's text is the lament of a man whose lover has left him. The man notes how she "broke her vows without a thought," and wonders what he said to cause this. Still, he finds her memory sweet, and could never hate her. Beethoven's attraction to such a text may be connected to Countess Josephine Deym's rejection of the composer in 1806. In early 1805 Beethoven presented the Countess, with whom he was cultivating a romantic relationship, two songs, Gedenke mein, WoO. 130, and An die Hoffnung, Op. 32. Beethoven took the songs back from her after their relationship evaporated.
Although Beethoven chose a strophic format for "Als die Geliebte sich trennen wollte," he was still able to compensate for the disparity in the number of syllables in parallel lines through subtle changes in the melody. Unchanging is the piano passage that both splices the verses together and closes the song. While the accompaniment of the first three verses is almost exactly the same, that for the last verse is altered significantly, reflecting the changed audience: In the first three verses the narrator sends his message out into the void, asking hope to return to him. In the final verse, however, he speaks directly to his former beloved. Beethoven's repetition of the first syllables of the final line of each verse anticipates his repetition of the entire final line of the last verse, enabling him to create a stronger, more conclusive cadence to close the song.
(John Palmer, Rovi)