Did Beethoven compose Fur Elise for his Valentine?

There are many secrets and rumors about Beethoven’s love life. He loved to flirt, had many lovers (both real and fantasies), and often used “pet names.”A fascinating unanswered question is,”Who was Elise?”

One suggestion is that in 1809 Beethoven fell in love with a beautiful eighteen-year-old student named Therese Malfatti. He believed the esteem Therese (Elise) held for him was reciprocated love. Beethoven had fantasies of marriage to this young girl, and because of this had requested his required birth certificate from Bonn.

Why Didn’t Beethoven Marry Therese Malfatti (Elise)?

In 1810 Beethoven was invited to the Malfatti household for a party thrown by Therese’s father. Beethoven was planning to play a bagatelle he had composed for Therese, then propose marriage to her. Unfortunately he got so drunk that night that he didn’t play the piano or propose. He managed to write Therese’s name on the title page of the music. He wrote ” Fur Therese ” in almost illegible writing. On Therese’s death the manuscript was found and published as “Fur Elise.”

Was Beethoven’s Close Friend, Elisabeth Roeckel, “Elise?”

Elisabeth Roeckel and Beethoven were close friends – perhaps more than just friends. She was also a pianist and later became a singer. She was known in her circle of friends as “Elise.” In 1810 she and Beethoven were separated when she traveled to Bamberg to work in theater. There are rumors that Beethoven dedicated the A-Minor piano piece “in the memory of” Elise because they were separated. Since Elisabeth Roeckel was referred to in the dedication as “Elise” and not the more formal “Fraeulein Roeckel,” she must have known Beethoven well.

Beethoven Loved to Flirt

Elise (Elizabeth Roeckel) wrote about Beethoven’s teasing. “Beethoven, true to his frisky disposition, pinched me out of sheer affection. I didn’t know what to do.” This wasn’t the end of their friendship, however. A few days before his death in 1827, she visited him. She cut off a lock of his hair and accepted one of his quills to remember him.

Was There Another Elise?

We can only guess who was the inspiration for Beethoven’s famous piece. Elise was a very common name in Vienna at that time, so he may have dedicated Fur Elise to another woman. We still enjoy the music, and every student longs to get to a level where they can play Fur Elise.
Listen to the beginning of Fur Elise played on the harp. Find Fur Elise & click.
Who do you think is the real “Elise?”