“The Eleven Bagatelles, Op. 119 were written by Ludwig van Beethoven between the 1790s and the early 1820s. By the end of 1803, he had already sketched Bagatelles Nos. 1 through 5 (along with several other short works for piano that he never published). In 1820, he composed the last five bagatelles of Op. 119, and published them as a set of five in 1821. The following year, he revised his old bagatelle sketches to construct a new collection for publication, adding a final bagatelle, No. 6, composed in late 1822. He then sent off this set of six to England for publication in 1823, along with Nos. 7 through 11, which had not yet been published in England.”
Oxford Dictionary definition of Bagatelle:
The name literally means a “a short unpretentious instrumental composition” as a reference to the light style of a piece.
Bagatelle no. 1 is more complex than it looks.
Composed in the key of G minor, it uncannily ends on the Dominant of C minor, creating a C minor home key perception (that is, at the final cadence or last measure of the composition, as the G MAJOR chord resonates). But from a different perspective, the final G MAJOR chord at pianissimo level (very soft) could be considered a PARALLEL MAJOR to the Bagatelle’s firmly ingrained G minor key signature. Regardless of theoretical analysis, the composition is audibly more than a “lighthearted” work.
In my own preparation and instruction, I drew on Alfred Brendel and Shura Cherkassky’s readings, later adding a forte piano player’s rendition.
While reviewing and practicing the Bagatelle, I crystallized my ideas about phrasing:
In these comparative You Tube performances, staccato versus legato choices are varied, and tempo decisions relate to artistic preference.