This piece was dedicated to Anna Giannatasio del Rio, whose marriage to Leopold Schmerling took place on February 6, 1819. Beethoven was engaged (apparently by del Rio) to provide a wedding song for the event. By January of that year he had written this short work, using a text by Anton Joseph Stein. Beside this C major version for solo voice, unison chorus and piano, there is another one, in A major, for male solo voice, four-part chorus and piano. This second one -- assuming it did indeed come second -- is listed as Hess 124, and is the more popular of the two, or, more accurately, is the less neglected of the pair. Hess 124 has been recorded at least twice, but, as far as is known, there was no recording of this WoO 105 version in the twentieth century.
Beethoven, who had written the work relatively quickly and never submitted it to a publisher, apparently did not have a high regard for it. Nevertheless, it is not a weak composition considering its purpose. This is colorful, joyful music, quite appropriate for wedding festivities. It is not known which version was actually performed at that 1819 event, though it seems likely that the Hess 124 Hochzeitslied was chosen, owing to its more colorful forces.
The piece has an ecstatic opening on the piano that perfectly captures the celebratory and joyful nature of the wedding day. In a somewhat less aggressive manner, the soloist then sings the opening line, "Auf, Freunde, singt dem Gott der Ehen!" The chorus soon enters, sounding both angelic and energetic, perfectly fitting the joyful mood. The piano writing throughout is colorful and brimming with spirit in its big chords and quasi-manic character. If the music sometimes borders on the bombastic and a kind of over-the-top happiness, it is at least brief -- about two minutes long --and imparts a sense that it is all about fun and celebration. The score was first published in 1927.