What is the history about the famous piano piece "Für Elise". Do we know who this lady that Beethoven immortalized was? Did he have a big, fat old crush on this lady? Was it a case of unrequited love? It very much sounds like she has a boyfriend if you listen to some of the brooding qualities of the piece.

What exactly is the history behind this piece?

  • Is there a tag for this kind of "what inspired the music" type of question? If not, maybe there should be, but I can't think of a good term to use. Adding "composition" might make sense, since you're trying to get at the what/how the composition came to be.
    – Dave
    Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 9:49
  • There is some Googlable information available.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 10:34
  • 1
    He extremely prescient, and wrote it for Eliza: cyberpsych.org/eliza/#.WUJwMVUrLsA Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 11:32

1 Answer 1


Wikipedia offers some possibilities:

  • Max Unger suggested that Ludwig Nohl may have transcribed the title incorrectly and the original work may have been named "Für Therese", a reference to Therese Malfatti von Rohrenbach zu Dezza (1792–1851). She was a friend and student of Beethoven's to whom he supposedly proposed in 1810, though she turned him down to marry the Austrian nobleman and state official Wilhelm von Droßdik in 1816.

  • According to a 2010 study by Klaus Martin Kopitz (de), there is evidence that the piece was written for the German soprano singer Elisabeth Röckel (1793–1883), later the wife of Johann Nepomuk Hummel. "Elise", as she was called by a parish priest (she called herself "Betty" too), had been a friend of Beethoven's since 1808.

  • In 2014, the Canadian musicologist Rita Steblin suggested that Juliane Katharine Elisabet Barensfeld (de), who used "Elise" as a variant first name, might be the dedicatee. Born in Regensburg and treated for a while as a child prodigy, she first travelled on concert tours with Beethoven's friend Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, also from Regensburg, and then lived with him for some time in Vienna, where she received singing lessons from Antonio Salieri. Steblin argues that Beethoven dedicated this work to the 13-year-old Elise Barensfeld as a favour to Therese Malfatti who lived opposite Mälzel's and Barensfeld's residence and who might have given her piano lessons.

See also forelise.com/about.


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