Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor WoO 59/Bia 515 for solo piano, commonly known as “Für Elise”, is one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s most popular compositions. It is usually classified as a bagatelle. The composition was not published during Beethoven’s lifetime, having been discovered by Ludwig Nohl 40 years after the composer’s death. The identity of “Elise” is unknown.
A bagatelle is a short piece of music, typically for the piano, and usually of a light, mellow character. The name bagatelle literally means “a short unpretentious instrumental composition” as a reference to the light style of a piece. The earliest use of the name “bagatelle” for a musical work was by François Couperin, in his tenth harpsichord ordre (1717), in which a rondeau is titled “Les bagatelles’.