Songs are not a well-known part of Beethoven’s output. Symphonies: check. Piano sonatas: check. Concertos and string quartets: check. Songs… not so much. And yet Beethoven wrote many songs over the course of his career. “To the Distant Beloved” is one of the first song cycles to be conceived as an organic whole. Beethoven seems not to have wanted these songs to be separated. Each song is linked to the others through transformations of key and motives, as well as by using piano interludes to link the movements without any break. Also at this time, Beethoven was becoming more interested in using simple, folk-like melodies. In this, he was probably inspired by another of his lesser-known projects: setting and arranging well over a hundred Scottish folk songs.