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"Fur Elise" by Ludwig van Beethoven

Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor WoO 59


Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven

History of Fur Elise

Ludwig van Beethoven was well into his career and almost completely deaf when he wrote his famous piano piece, Fur Elise, in 1810. Though the title of the piece comes from a discovered manuscript signed by Beethoven and dedicated to Elise, it has since been lost - sparking an interest in learning who this "Elise" could be. There are many theories, though many a far stretch, ranging from misreading Beethoven's sloppy handwriting to "Elise" being used as a term of endearment. It simply could be that Beethoven knew someone named Elise.

About the Music of Fur Elise

Fur Elise is a bagatelle, which literally means a thing of little or no value. This small tune, no longer than 4 minutes, can hardly be described as a bagatelle! It is perhaps just as recognizable as Beethoven's 5th and 9th symphonies, if not more.

Fur Elise can be basically broken down into five parts: A-B-A-C-A. It begins with the main theme, a simple somber melody played sweetly above arpeggiated chords (A), then briefly modulates to a major scale (B), then returns to the main theme (A), then ventures to a much more tumultuous and lengthier idea (C), before finally returning to the main theme.

Beethoven only assigned opus numbers to his larger works, such as his symphonies. This small piano piece was never given an opus number, hence the WoO 59, which is German for "werk ohne opuszahl" or "work without opus number". It was assigned to the piece by Georg Kinsky in 1955.

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