One could succinctly describe the Piano Sonatas Op. 10 – composed between 1796 and 1798 – as a “trilogy of contrasts”. As he had already done in Op. 2 and Op. 27, here Beethoven has collated various works in a single opus number. And his reason for doing so was not purely based on com- merce; in fact, he was motivated mainly by the musical content. These three works from his early sonata period exhibit artistic development, extensive contrasting, and independent formulation: not until his later works, in fact, do these three factors reap- pear at this same level. He dedicated the sonatas to the Countess Anna Margarete von Browne, a society lady in Vienna.
The Sonatas are written in the keys of C minor (No. 1), F major (No. 2) and D major (No. 3), and contain a varying num- ber of movements. The three-movement Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2 lack a Minuet, or slow movement, whereas No. 3 consists of four movements. The American Beethoven- expert, William Kinderman, emphasizes the distinctive diversity of the Sonatas par- ticularly in their first movements: “...the terse, dramatic idiom of the C-minor Sonata sets into relief the relaxed, mischievous spirit of the F-major, whereas the dynamic brilliance of the third sonata, in D major, expands the formal design from within.”