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Beethoven scholars are not entirely certain who "Elise" was. The most reasonable theory is that Beethoven originally titled his work "Für Therese", Therese being Therese Malfatti von Rohrenbach zu Dezza (1792-1851), whom Beethoven intended to marry in 1810. However, she declined Beethoven's proposal. In 1816 Therese Malfatti, who was the daughter of the Viennese merchant Jacob Malfatti von Rohrenbach (1769-1829), married the Austrian nobleman and state official Wilhelm von Droßdik (1771-1859). When the work was published in 1865, the discoverer of the piece Ludwig Nohl mistranscribed the title as "Für Elise". The autograph is lost.
 The music
The piece begins 3/8 with a right-hand theme accompanied by arpeggios in the left hand; the harmonies used are A minor and E major. The next section maintains the same texture, but broadens the chord progression to include C major and G major. A lighter section follows, written in the key of F major, then a few bars in C major. The first section returns without alteration; next, the piece moves into an agitated theme set over a pedal point on A. After a gauntlet of arpeggios, the main theme returns, and the piece quietly ends in its starting key of A minor, with an Authentic Cadence.
- ^ This theory is spelled out in Max Unger, translated by Theodore Baker, "Beethoven and Therese von Malfatti," The Musical Quarterly 11, no. 1 (1925): 63-72.