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Classical Music

Did Fur elise ever mean For elise?

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March 26, 2009 9:42AM

Für Elise means "For Elise" in German. Ludwig van Beethoven composed this piece for Therese Malfatti von Rohrenbach zu Dezza, a student of his whom he intended to marry. She turned down his proposal, however, and instead married the Austrian nobleman Wilhelm von Droßdik. It is generally accepted that Beethoven originally titled the piece "Für Therese", and that the discoverer of it, Ludwig Nohl, misread the illegible title as "Für Elise". There are other theories, though, including that 'Elise' was used to describe a sweetheart during Beethoven's time. If this is true, then the piece is dedicated to sweethearts in general, with no specific person in mind. However, this theory is unlikely because it doesn't fit well with Beethoven's composing and dedication history. Every beginning piano student for at least the last 50 years has been given this piece to learn. I learned it at age 7 or 8, and loathe it to this day :-)!