Beethoven - Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor ('Für Elise')

It's one of Beethoven's best-known works, but the score was not published until 1867, 40 years after the composer's death.

Beethoven’s Bagatelle No.25 in A minor is rarely referred to in such grandiose terms; instead, all who know and love it refer to it simply by its nickname, 'Für Elise'. It's a nickname that, frankly, should never have existed. Beethoven did indeed include a dedication on the manuscript, but it was ‘Für Therese’. Poor Therese must have been slightly miffed when, thanks to a rather slapdash copywriter called Ludwig Nohl, the dedication on the published version of the work was to someone quite different.

Nowadays, 'Für Elise' is undoubtedly one of Beethoven’s most famous works. It seems almost strange then that, at the time it was composed, the piece was relatively incidental. It certainly didn’t provoke much of a reaction and apparently Beethoven himself was never fully satisfied with the work, returning to it some years later and trying, unsuccessfully in his eyes, to revise and refine it. Ultimately, ‘Für Elise’ wasn’t even published until 1865, nearly forty years after Beethoven’s death.