Listening to Beethoven #94 – Variations on ‘Ich hab ein kleines Hüttchen nur’

Ludwig Gleim, author to the melody Ich hab’ ein kleines Huettchen nur (portrait by Johann Heinrich Ramberg) and the young Beethoven

Variations on ‘Ich hab ein kleines Hüttchen nur’ WoO Anh.10 for piano (1795, Beethoven aged 24)

Dedication not known
Duration 6′

Listen

What’s the theme like?

Bright and quite breezy. A memorable tune that could easily have been whistled while walking down the street!

Background and Critical Reception

Another 1795 set of variations…but there is a little more doubt over the authenticity of these ones. If they were indeed from Beethoven’s pen they were not published until 1830 – and are thought to have been written in 1795.

The Unheard Beethoven website gives a characteristically detailed and involving commentary to the work, deducing the original tune to have been a popular melody that was ‘frankly a little creepy to a modern reader’!

The esteemed Beethoven scholar Willy Hess classed the piece as ‘doubtful’ rather than ‘spurious’, with no helpful evidence for or against its authenticity.

Thoughts

Beethoven or not, the eight variations are quickly despatched. Arguments in favour of Ludwig’s authorship would be the by now familiar pattern of a minor key fourth variation and a vigorous fifth, and a coda which allows itself to roam free in both mood and tempo.

The variations fit snugly alongside the other three sets we have heard so far from 1795, with passages suitable for the amateur pianist but others – the fifth especially – that are much more demanding. The soft end is a nice touch too.

Recordings used and Spotify links

Rudolf Buchbinder

Rudolf Buchbinder clearly enjoys his time with these variations, bringing the tune out nicely and applying some impressive virtuosity where required.

Also written in 1795 Hummel Piano Sonata no.8

Next up Sextet in E flat major Op.71

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