These songs are among the last of Beethovens folk song arrangements to be written and published. Perhaps the earliest one, Highland Harry, was written in 1815, and the last were written in 1819; the collection was assembled and published after Beethoven's death by the Scottish publisher George Thomson, who commissioned over 100 of these arrangements from Beethoven (and had done the same from Haydn before him). This collection also contains the least authentic folk melody of the bunch; " Cease your funning" is in fact from Gay's The Beggar's Opera.
Some of Beethovens harmonizations are unusally sophisticated here, a trait that might have delayed the publication of songs designed for the amateur market. The rich harmonies are particularly apparent when the songs arranged for three voices are sung by all three (rather than, as sometimes happens, being performed by a soloist) and given the full instrumentation of cello, violin, and piano. Up! quit thy bower, for example, gives the impression of a considerably larger musical group when performed at full force, and Glencoe has a rather naive but still appropriate mirroring between violin and the highest vocal line that is still more effective with the lower voices adding to the harmonies. In general the group provides a good introduction to the unexpectedly inventive touches found in this little-known corner of the Beethoven canon.,