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This Day in History - April 27

Beethoven composed Für Elise.
Video | April 27, 2017 | By Jonathan Shipley


On this day, in 1810, Ludwig van Beethoven composed one of the most famous pieces of classical music ever done, "Für Elise." Officially titled Bagatelle No. 25, the piece for solo piano was not published until 1867, 40 years after the composer's death in 1827. The discoverer of the piece, the German music scholar Ludwig Nohl, affirmed that the original autographed manuscript was dated April 27, 1810. The original autographed manuscript is now lost.

If the piece is "For Elise," who is Elise? Theories abound! Scholars think Nohl may have transcribed the title incorrectly and the original work might have been named "Für Therese," a reference to Thesee Malfatti, a friend and student of Beethoven to whom he supposedly proposed to in 1810. She turned him down. Perhaps it was written for Elisabeth Rockel, another friend of Beethoven. Rockel was the first who played the title role in Beethoven's opera Fidelio. Or, perhaps it was Juliane Katharine Elisabet Barensfeld. She was a young girl living in Vienna, taking singing lessons from Antonio Salieri. Perhaps he liked the young pupil and gave her piano lessons as well?

It all remains hypothesis.

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