Elisabeth Röckel

Elisabeth Röckel (15 March 1793 – 3 March 1883) was a German soprano opera singer and the wife of the composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel.

A portrait of Elizabeth Röckel.
Portrait of Elisabeth Röckel by Joseph Willibrord Mähler, Düsseldorf, Goethe-Museum
Letter from Anna Milder-Hauptmann to „Elise Hummel“, 1830 (fragment), Düsseldorf, Goethe-Museum
The grave of Elisabeth Hummel nee Röckel at Weimar's Historical Cemetery


Röckel was born in Neunburg vorm Wald, Bavaria, and baptised Maria Eva. She was a sister of the opera singer Joseph August Röckel (1783–1870) who played Florestan in the second version of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio, which premiered in the Theater an der Wien in 1806. In the same year she came to Vienna, too, where she lived in a flat in the theater, together with her brother. In a register of the residents of the theater she is named "Elis [!] Rökel". According to this register in another flat of the theater lived the famous singer Anna Milder-Hauptmann with her family, who played the title role of Fidelio. She became a close friend of Elisabeth. Many sources show that Elisabeth often met Beethoven who fell in love with the beautiful young girl and wanted to marry her.

But in April 1810 Elisabeth Röckel got an engagement at the theater in Bamberg where she made her stage debut as Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni and became a friend of the writer E. T. A. Hoffmann.

Since 1819 Röckel lived in Weimar where she died, aged 89.

The German musicologist Klaus Martin Kopitz has suggested that Beethoven wrote his famous Bagatelle No. 25 for piano, commonly known as "Für Elise", in the days of Elisabeth Röckel's departure from Vienna. It had the inscription "Für Elise am 27 April zur Erinnerung von L. v. Bthvn" [For Elise on 27 April (1810) as memento by L. v. Bthvn]. Indeed, Anna Milder-Hauptmann named her "Elise" in a letter to her.[1]

During the days before Beethoven's death, she and her husband Hummel visited Beethoven several times, and cut and saved a lock of his hair. This was later discovered in 1934 in Florence by Wilhelm Hummel, a descendant of Johann Nepomuk Hummel. The lock of hair is now in the Beethoven Center of the San Jose State University.[2]



  1. ^ See Kopitz (2010), pp. 45–57 and Kopitz (2015)
  2. ^ William Meredith, "New Acquisitions (Summer 2012): The Yvonne Hummel Collection", The Beethoven Journal, vol. 27, no. 2 (Winter 2012), pp. 74–80


  • Kopitz, Klaus Martin (2010). Beethoven, Elisabeth Röckel und das Albumblatt "Für Elise". Cologne: Dohr. ISBN 978-3-936655-87-2.
  • Kopitz, Klaus Martin (January 2015). "Beethovens 'Elise' Elisabeth Röckel. Neue Aspekte zur Entstehung und Überlieferung des Klavierstücks WoO 59" (PDF). Die Tonkunst. 9 (1): 48–57.

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