"La Partenza" (The Departure) is a setting of text by Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782). It is short, consisting of two verses, the whole score fitting on one page in the C. F. Peters edition. The words in this work appear in two languages--Italian and German--the latter version done in a translation by Christoph August Tiedge (1752-1841). The Italian language version--as one might surmise from the title of the song--is the chief one, appearing atop the German in the score.
Beethoven would study the art of setting Italian text with Salieri in the early 1800s. Here his modest effort is reasonably successful, capturing the emotions in Metastasio's work quite effectively--the text deals with the pain and loss that comes with departure from loved ones. Beethoven marked the song Affettuoso (affectionate, warm). Shortly after completing this work he wrote another song--his only other solo vocal effort from 1796--that also dealt with the subject of departure, Abschiedsgesang an Wiens Bürger (Farewell Song to the Viennese Citizens), which used texts by von Friedelberg. "La Partenza" is the more sophisticated and better of the two, featuring both an attractive vocal line and imaginative accompaniment. Still, it is far from masterful.
This short song is nevertheless one of the stronger early efforts by Beethoven in the vocal genre. It was first published in Vienna in 1803.