The prolific Schubert wrote these six dances in October 1824, shortly after writing the 3 Ecossaises for piano, D. 816. The Six German Dances are short, their duration typically coming in just under six minutes. The first three are in A flat major, and the last three in B flat major.
The six dances are played without pause, the whole group sounding more like one work with several episodic sections rather than a collection of six distinct pieces. The opening is lively but wistful in its simple but stately main theme, a theme played by cascades of angelic-sounding chords, mostly in the upper register. The second subject is gentler and somewhat reflective, but it eventually yields back to the opening theme. There follows a chipper, bouncy variation on the main theme, whose short-winded nature comes across as a sort of transition back to the opening material. A hearty, boisterous variant is then presented, its music percussive and emanating largely from the bass register. Here the music exudes a festive air, but soon an elegant mood settles in, which thereafter alternates with the increasingly insistent festive music. A stately, typically Schubertian variant is then given, but the domineering festive music cannot be pushed aside for long, as it returns to close out the piece colorfully.