The first appearance of the term "bagatelle" is in the beginning of the eighteenth-century, with most of the early works traced back to simple dances. Later, Ludwig Van Beethoven elevated his bagatelles, expanding them in many ways, reflecting his compositions of the late period. The Romantic composers also wrote bagatelles, and some works present a similarity to the nineteenth-century character piece.
Twentieth-century bagatelles demonstrate a variety of musical styles and characters. They still contain some of the traditional aspects, for example, each piece is relatively short with different moods and qualities. On the other hand, several composers began to experiment with new compositional and performance techniques, and created their own individualities. The nationalistic composer, Béla Bartók addressed the folk element in Fourteen Bagatelles, Op. 6. Alexander Tcherepnin's Bagatelles, Op. 5, based on the Russian tradition, has gained great popularity in the piano repertoire. Ernst Von Dohnányi is strongly associated with the Romantic tradition in Ten Bagatelles, Op. 13. Meanwhile, two Americans wrote works using twelve-tone technique: Peter Lieberson's Bagatelles and George Rochberg's Twelve Bagatelles. Flor Peeters utilized a style of church music in Ten Bagatelles, Op. 88, and William Bolcom exhibited French titles in Nine Bagatelles.
Despite the short history of the bagatelle, it has been established as one of the popular compositions in the twentieth-century. The purpose of this treatise is to reveal the value of the bagatelle as a significant part of the piano repertoire. The author reviews the historical background, discusses various bagatelles by Beethoven, and focuses on those twentieth-century bagatelles shown in the list of musical examples, with regard to musical styles and performance practice.