The score was not published until 1867, 40 years after the composer's death in 1827. The discoverer of the piece, Ludwig Nohl, affirmed that the original autographed manuscript, now lost, was dated 27 April 1810. The version of "Für Elise" we hear today is an earlier version that was transcribed by Ludwig Nohl. There is a later version, with drastic changes to the accompaniment which was transcribed from a later manuscript by Barry Cooper. The most notable difference is in the first theme, the left-hand arpeggios are delayed by a 16th note beat. There are a few extra bars in the transitional section into the B section; and finally, the rising A minor arpeggio figure is moved later into the piece. The tempo marking Poco Moto is believed to have been on the manuscript that Ludwig Nohl transcribed (now lost). The later version includes the marking Molto Grazioso. It is believed that Beethoven intended to add the piece to a cycle of bagatelles.
Therese Malfatti, widely believed to be the dedicatee of "Für Elise" The pianist and musicologist Luca Chiantore (es) argued in his thesis and his 2010 book Beethoven al piano that Beethoven might not have been the person who gave the piece the form that we know today. Chiantore suggested that the original signed manuscript, upon which Ludwig Nohl claimed to base his transcription, may never have existed. On the other hand, the musicologist Barry Cooper stated, in a 1984 essay in The Musical Times, that one of two surviving sketches closely resembles the published version.