Composed between the years 1800-1801, in the same period that he completed his first symphony. Dedicated to Prince Karl von Lichnowsky, who had been Beethoven's patron since 1792.
If you have been playing Beethoven's sonatas on the piano for a few years, you may have noticed that structural unity is something very characteristic of Beethoven. Their movements tend to be connected by all kinds of musical motifs, ties and affinities and backward glances, plus the boundaries between the movements become more blurred as we get to the late sonatas and the themes become more concentrated and abstract.
And there is this sonata, in isolation if we look at the others. It's not just that it doesn't have sonata-like movement; is that the first movement is in the form "Theme and Variations". Lacking literally any tonal tension, it is as far from the sonata form as possible. And the theme, which in Beethoven is generally designed to be a kind of rich mine of developing and evolving musical motifs rather than something attractive in its own right, here in this sonata we find it simply beautiful. . And so, all the advancement in this movement comes only from the development and elaboration of the subject, nothing more.
The four movements are not linked by reason at all. The first movement is related in a way to the rest, since it contains the outlines of the entire structure of the sonata; the theme and Var.1 are the first movement, the mischievous Var.2 is the Scherzo, the tragic Var.3 the funeral march, and the "ecstatic gracious lyric" Var.4 the ending. The point is that this sonata works because its movements are different, not because they are similar, a rather extraordinary conception of what a sonata can be. The calm of the first movement is erased by the scherzo, with his silly passing pretensions in F minor. Then a funeral march erases any attempt at joviality, and the finale comments with a certain irony on the clumsiness of the march.