Between 1809 and 1816, Beethoven completed about 180 folksong settings for the Scottish publisher George Thomson. Although the composer was paid for these settings, it is still surprising that he set few such melodies from Austria or Germany. Of the twenty-three folksongs referred to as WoO 158a, only two are of German and five of Tirolean (part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that was split between Austria and Italy after WWI) origin. All twenty-three of these songs were set in 1816-17. In March of 1820 Beethoven set two more Austrian folk songs featuring the Tirolean dialect found in the western, mountainous, parts of Austria. The first of these is "Der Knabe auf dem Berge" ("The Boy on the Hill"), which was published, along with "Das liebe Kätzchen," ("The dear Kitty") Hess 133, in the Niederrheinische Musikzeiting in 1865. In the text of "Der Knabe auf dem Berge" a girl points out to her boyfriend that there is another boy just like him sitting on the hill. Apparently this is a suggestion to her present beau that she might replace him with the chap in the heights, for she then beckons her boyfriend to come to her. She offers to pay for his wine, beer and nuts and tells him he can still be his boyfriend. One wonders what the guy's problem is. Both the triple meter and the repetitive structure of the melody betray its folk origins. The accompaniment is simple, providing a harmonic foundation and reinforcing the Ländler atmosphere of the song by clearly marking the triple meter. Melodically, the lines of text are grouped in pairs, the first hovering around the dominant, the second descending to the tonic. Although "Der Knabe auf dem Berg" was originally published for voice and piano, the piano part, simplified, is occasionally performed on a zither.
(John Palmer, Rovi)