These are very early works, from a time when Beethoven was still forming his own powerful and unique voice. Each sonata shows a debt to Mozart, especially the first two. Beethoven dedicated the set to Antonio Salieri, the influential Court Kapellmeister in Vienna, who was one of his teachers.
Sonata No. 1, in D, begins with a brief, dramatic introduction, after which the violin presents a graceful, light theme, the tempo marking being Allegro con brio. The piano takes it up immediately, the violin introduces another idea, and then both elaborate on the two themes. The development section's character is more serious and its sound more typical of the mature Beethoven. The second movement is dominated by the piano, as indeed, the piano is given a fairly prominent role throughout his early violin sonatas. Marked Andante con moto, a stately yet playful theme is introduced by the piano, and it progresses through some lively and dramatic developments in the four inventive variations Beethoven fashions. The Rondo finale (Allegro) is light and graceful, the piano taking the lead at the outset with a jumpy, attractive theme. Some tension builds as the music progresses, but high spirits predominate.
Sonata No. 2, in A, begins softly with a lively theme, the piano and violin both exchanging and sharing it and its related material. A second idea, also rhythmically inclined, appears on the violin, then on piano. The material is repeated and a short and interesting development follows. The themes are reprised and a brief, delicate coda closes the movement. The second movement (Andante piu tosto Allegretto) features a reflective, lovely melody. The finale (Allegro piacévole) is lively, the piano introducing a jaunty theme and the violin immediately joining in the fun. The alternate melody is a mixture of cuteness and sentimentality.
The Sonata No. 3, in E, opens with a lively theme and establishes a similar structural pattern to the first movements of the preceding sonatas. The development here, however, shows the composer's burgeoning skills. Again, the piano takes the lead in the second movement (Adagio con molta espressione), but the violin is given some mesmerizing music, its singing tone better matched to the lovely, passionate theme. The finale, another Rondo (Allegro molto), brings on high spirits with a rollicking and colorful theme, and provides a brilliant close to the work. The duration of the each work overall averages typically about twenty minutes.