The two Albumleaves in this edition are on the same level as Beethoven's loveliest bagatelles. The first Albumleaf, which became famous as "Für Elise", was probably composed for Therese Malfatti, whom Beethoven greatly admired. (lt dates from the spring of 1810, when Beethoven was considering proposing marriage to Therese Malfatti.) Nohl, who published the piece in 1867 in his Neue Beethovenbriefe, must then have read "Therese" as "Elise", which does not really surprise anyone who has seen Beethoven's handwriting. The melancholy - even depressive - charm of this Albumleaf shows Beethoven from an unusual angle. According to Nottebohm, the piece appeared in the manuscript, which is now lost, as No. 12 of a set of bagatelles; Beethoven used some of the rest in the Bagatelles Opp. 119 and 126.
The other Albumleaf, a Piano Piece in B flat major, could hardly have been "composed by Beethoven on request the afternoon of 14th August 1818" as the first edition claims. The music alternately speaks, paints and sings with a complexity that puts an improvisation virtually out of the question; the mastery is too perfect - every detail, concentrated to · the very extreme, is precisely where it belongs. The piece ,was among the musical effects of the Polish pianist and collector of autographs Maria Szymanowska, who was also admired by Goethe.
Both pieces are taken from the volume Beethoven, Piano Pieces, Wiener Urtext Edition No. 50003). Alfred Brendel