Beethoven never visited Scotland, but in the late 18th century a Scottish civil servant,
George Thomson, set about creating a library of music based on old folk songs. His aim was
not to preserve this music but to improve on it, enlisting the help of Walter Scott and Robert Burns
for the lyrics, and Haydn and Beethoven for the music.
In those days the main income for such a set of works would be sales of sheet music for the drawing room piano, but Beethoven's
masterful scoring made them too difficult for amateur players. Thomson was somewhat disappointed
with this but it appears he was not the most generous of patrons, and Beethoven, one of the first
composers to treat music as a serious commercial business, was not inclined to work for free:
"I will also be glad to fulfill your wish to harmonize the little Scottish airs; and
in this matter I await a more definite proposal, since it is well known to me that Mr.
Haydn was paid one pound sterling for each song."