The story behind this composition is interesting. Chopin, a promising 16-year-old composer/pianist studying in Warsaw, was a friend of the well-to-do Sowinski family, whose matriarch was Katarzyna Sowinska. (Her husband was an important war-hero General.) She became enamored of the German song Der Schweizerbub after hearing a performance of it by renowned soprano Henriette Sontag. Madame Sowinska prevailed upon a reluctant Chopin to write variations on it. Apparently he wanted to dispatch the request as quickly as possibly, since he is said to have written the piece in less than an hour. If this account is true, it bears witness to Chopin's remarkable facility and burgeoning genius, for this is a fine, if minor composition.
After a slow introduction Chopin presents the theme, which bears a curious resemblance to the famous tune in the Marine hymn "From The Halls of Montezuma." Yet, it is lighter here and, oddly, has an Italianate sort of chipper character which might make it suited to a Rossini comedy. The variations all feature brilliant keyboard writing, with the Scherzando second brimming with color and playfulness, and the ensuing Tranquillamente variation, in contrast, somber and elegant. The last variation quickly transforms into a colorful waltz, whose thematic ties to the Schweizerbub melody are the most distant and, in a sense, the most subtle. This was Chopin's first surviving effort at a variations work, and it must be counted as an overwhelming success.