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Who was the mysterious Elise for whom Beethoven wrote this short but very famous piece? There are quite a few possible candidates!
One is German soprano Elizabeth Rockel, who sang in Beethoven’s opera Fidelio. She met with Beethoven quite often, and it’s known that he wanted to marry her at one time. Another soprano called Elise Barensfeld has also been suggested, although less is known about her.
But in fact, what Beethoven actually wrote on the manuscript was not "Für Elise" - but "Für Therese"! It’s widely acknowledged that the Therese in question was Therese Malfatti, to whom Beethoven proposed marriage in 1810, the same year he composed the piece. As further evidence, she was also the owner of the manuscript.
She must have been rather put out when - thanks to a sloppy copywriter who made the 19th century equivalent of a typo - her name on the published version of the work was changed to someone else’s!