Beethoven composes Für Elise.
Ludwig van Beethoven, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest composers of all time, is thought to have completed his masterpiece “Für Elise” on this day in 1810.
Ludwig van Beethoven was born on 17 December 1770 in Bonn, Germany, and died on 26 March 1827 in Vienna, Austria. Amongst his complete oeuvre are two masterpieces that are familiar to even the least discerning ear, the Fifth Symphony and “Für Elise”. Passages from both of these pieces of music are instantly recognisable and remain famous all over the world.
Beethoven completed “Für Elise” on 27 April 1810, but it was not actually discovered and published until 1867, a full 40 years after his funeral. The original autographed score was found by a German music scholar, Ludwig Nohl, who had it transcribed and published. However, this original manuscript is now lost, and some have even suggested that it never actually existed, adding mystery to the music.
The other great mystery about “Für Elise” surrounds the identity of the dedicatee, Elise. Some scholars have suggested that Nohl may have transcribed the title incorrectly, and that it was actually called “Für Therese” in honour of Therese Malfatti von Rohrenbach zu Dezza. This generously named Therese was a friend and former student of Beethoven’s, whom he had fallen in love with and proposed to in 1810—only to be turned down in favour of the Austrian nobleman Wilhelm von Drossdik.