Beethoven composed the Sonatas for Violin and Piano, Op. 30 in 1801-02, completing most of the work between March and May of 1802, after moving to Heiligenstadt in an attempt to improve his hearing. The three sonatas, in A major, C minor and G major, were published in 1803 by Bureau des Arts et d'Industrie in Vienna. The dedication of the Op. 30 sonatas, to Czar Alexander I of Russia, seems to have gone unacknowledged (evidence suggesting the gift of a diamond ring is unreliable), although Alexander was later one of ten subscribers to the Missa Solemnis. It is possible that Beethoven received a sum of money for the sonatas in 1814, after presenting the Czar's wife the Polonaise, Op. 89.
The Op. 30 sonatas developed during a traumatic period in Beethoven's life when he was forced to admit to himself that he was losing his hearing. In October 1802, only four months after completing the Op. 30 set, Beethoven wrote what is now called the Heiligenstadt Testament, in which he attempts to admit to his brothers, and indeed to all people, that he is going deaf. In this amazing document, which appears never to have been sent, the composer discloses that he had seriously considered suicide. Despite, or possibly because of this psychological suffering, Beethoven completed his Second Symphony, the Bagatelles Op. 33, the Op. 31 Piano Sonatas and the Op. 30 Violin Sonatas during the spring, summer and fall of 1802.
Overflowing with Haydnesque humor, the first movement of the Sonata in G Major eschews the relaxed, lilting lyricism of the A-major sonata and the somber dramatic power of the C-minor. Surprises abound, including tiny touches such as the squeaky violin punctuation at the end of the opening four-measure phrase, and the much more significant move to the dominant minor for the second theme. Motives and themes either rise or plummet, never arching in a Mozartean manner, and the main theme resembles the rising arpeggio gestures associated with the Mannheim composers, often called the "Mannheim Rocket." After the development section, which is dominated by the first theme and a trill figure drawn from the closing material, the recapitulation resolves the second theme to the tonic, but Beethoven retains the minor mode.
The second movement, marked Tempo di Minuetto, is in E-flat major. The outer sections of the ABA'(coda), song-like movement vacillate between E-flat major and G minor, while the contrasting central section spirals into E-flat minor shortly before the return of A. The subdued warmth that permeates this movement is unusual in Beethoven's music.
Humor seems to be the main ingredient in the finale, which is like a rondo but with an important exception: there is only one theme for both the episodes and the rondo. The theme has two elements, one consisting of rapid sixteenth-notes and the other of repeated eight-notes. The theme appears in several harmonies, including the distantly related E-flat major, the key of the second movement. As in the first two movements, an arpeggiated figure is an important part of the main theme.