Ludwig van Beethoven
Für Elise
in A Minor

The graceful, meandering simplicity of this slightly melancholy music never loses its charm. The opening phrase is one of the best known motifs in classical music.

ID: 50
Key: A Minor
Year: 1810
Level: 5
Period: Classical
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The mysterious Elise

Für Elise (or Bagatelle in A minor WoO 59) is a rondo with two episodes - the form can be described as A-B-A-C-A. Its beautiful sequence of continuous rolled chords divided between the hands is one of the most well-known piano themes of all time. One of the things that makes this piece so hypnotic is the stubborn sixteenth note movement, continued almost throughout the piece, and only changed at a couple of very strategic places for maximum effect. There are two short passages where the speed of the notes increases: the first episode has five bars with thirty-seconds, and the second episode has five bars with sixteenth-note triplets. In connection with these passages, there are also two places where the continuous movement is stopped (bars 35-36 and 75-76). In addition, there is the very peculiar jumping E octaves towards the end of the A section. All this adds to the impression that the music is somehow trying to break free from its melancholy meanderings, but is always reined in by the recurring E-D# motif.


The piece was composed in Beethoven's middle period. The discoverer of the piece, Ludwig Nohl, affirmed that the original autographed manuscript, now lost, was dated 27 April 1810. However, it was not published until 1865, several decades after the composer's death, by the Beethoven scholar Ludwig Nohl.

The title, meaning "To Elise", has puzzled Beethoven researchers. There is no record of any woman named Elise in Beethoven's life, and the fact that the original autograph manuscript is missing has fueled speculation. One of the most established theories, suggested by Max Unger, is that Nohl misread the dedication, and that Beethoven intended to name the piece "Für Therese". Around 1810, Beethoven was in love with a woman called Therese Malfatti, and even proposed to her, but was rejected. The other main theory is that Elise might have been a nickname for the opera singer Elisabeth Röckel, Beethoven's close friend, who later married the composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel.

Practice & Performance Tips:

Because of its great popularity, Für Elise is perhaps played and taught more than any other piano piece. For many piano beginners, its an important goal to be able to play at least the first section. And the first 22 measures are certainly playable even for someone with quite limited skills. To be able to perform the complete work, one should have acquired a more solid technique.
Since the only dynamic indication of the score is pp (measures 1 and 77), it’s suitable to use a rather subdued and soft touch more or less throughout, although one is of course free to add slight crescendos and diminuendos, perhaps even approach a forte in the dramatic episode at measures 60-76 (before the return to pianissimo).
Strive to keep a consistent speed through the various sections. Make sure not to play the characteristic E-D#-E-D#-E figures mechanically; instead, shape them with great care, always adhering to the graceful flow of the 3/8 time... Sign up for a Gold membership to read the practice tips.

Forum posts about this piece:

Please help me on this question by liszt-and-the-galops
Can you rank these pieces from easiest to hardest? Fantaisie-Impromtu Moonlight Sonata (Movement 1 only) Raindrop Prelude (Chopin's, I'm expecting this to be the easiest.)

What piece do you guys suggest? by pianoguy2009
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Fur Elise last measure by renie
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How long to play fur elise full version at a satisfactory level by thomas82
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What piece should I learn next? by johnnypresto
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Members who like this piece have also downloaded:

Ludwig van Beethoven: Für Elise in A Minor - piano sheet music to print instantly. This piece is level 5 and was composed during the Classical period.
This piece is composed by Ludwig van Beethoven and was published in 1810. Title: Für Elise, in A Minor . The difficulty level if graded by ABRSM would be approximately 5 and it belongs to the Classical period.