These six pieces exist only in a piano version, though there is strong evidence to suggest that they were originally scored for orchestra and also possibly for two violins and cello. The last three minuets contain features in the writing that clearly suggest an orchestral guise. Moreover, the similar Six Minuets, WoO 9, exist in a version for two violins and bass (or cello), and this latter set may have been the final half of the cycle. It is thought that this piano arrangement might have been made a year after the original score, which was lost.
Beethoven's early output is uneven, and that fact could hardly be better illustrated better than in this successive pair of minuet collections. The earlier set clearly lacks the sophistication and imagination of the present group. Each of the items in the WoO 10 set features a trio, and both main section and trio are cast in two parts, with each reprised. All six offer melodic and harmonic appeal, with greater lyricism generally coming in the trios as usual. The well-known Minuet in G is the second item here, and its elegant main theme, one of the composer's most memorable early melodies, demonstrates his skill at fashioning attractive light music. Certainly this minuet conjures colorful images of nobles dancing amid opulent surroundings and captures the atmosphere of late eighteenth-century European high society as well as any music from the period.
Ludwig van Beethoven's Minuet in G major, WoO 10, No. 2 is a composition originally written for orchestra, but was lost and only an arrangement for piano could be found. It has become very popular.
The minuet is in incipient ternary form, A-A-B-A, a type of song form as differentiated from other, such as the binary song form in the format A-B, the ternary A-B-A, or the rondo, A-B-A-C-A or an alternate form but with the "A" theme repeating after each new theme in the sequence of themes. In terms of A-B-A sections, the three parts are:
The Moderato section features a melody, marked legato (to play in a smooth, even style without noticeable breaks between the notes). Quarter notes occupy most of the left hand in this A section, which is made up of two periods. The first four-measure (a) phrase is in the tonic of G Major; the second four-measure (b) phrase modulates from the tonic to the dominant of D Major.
This period, the main theme of the piece, is repeated once. Next comes the second period which consists of a four-measure (c) phrase with a different melody and modulates back into the tonic for the final four-measures, which begins and ends in G Major. This phrase is a variation of (a) so as to stay in the tonic, so must be designated (a-1) to make this and other slight alterations clear. It is still very recognizable as the (a) thematic music.
The trio section features non-stop eighth notes in the right hand and, once again, quarter notes in the left hand. It starts with an eight-measure modulating passage repeated once and moves on to another eight-measure passage that ends in the tonic, and is also repeated once. This passage contains four harmonious measures that are followed by a varied reiteration of the theme in the trio part (which is played in the first eight-measure passage). The section, without going into as much detail as is shown above for the legato section (although this could be done) is thus in binary song form.
The last section, which is Moderato also, is a repeat of the first section, but without the repeat. It is that which makes the piece an incipient ternary song form: A-A-B-A.
In popular culture
In The Music Man, the children of River City learn the Minuet in G via the "Think Method" taught by Professor Harold Hill. It was also the inspiration for the theme of the British sitcom Fawlty Towers. Appears in Shirley Temples, "The Littlest Rebel" (1935)