Jane Fonda, 70, will return to Broadway for the first time in 46 years in Tectonic Theatre Project’s production of Moises Kaufman’s “33 Variations.” The production, to be directed by Kaufman, also represents his Broadway debut as a playwright.

Fonda first appeared on the Broadway stage in the 1960 play “There Was a Little Girl,” for which she earned a Tony nomination. She also played Broadway in a 1963 revival of “Strange Interlude.”

Kaufman’s play, which tells the story of musicologist Katherine Brandt (Fonda) and her quest to discover why Ludwig von Beethoven became obsessed with a trivial waltz, was presented — without Fonda — at La Jolla Playhouse in April.

Read here.

So … dumb me (no surprise, eh?) … what “trivial waltz” was Beethoven obsessed with? I guess I’ll go google that. Or maybe it’s just fiction. Guess I’ll go find out.

[short time lapse]

Okay …

After attending a play one night, the prominent playwright-director Moisés Kaufman visited a Manhattan record store, looking for a CD to add to his extensive classical music collection.

Playwright-director Moisés Kaufman and Zach Grenier (as Beethoven, left) joked during a rehearsal.
The clerk suggested Beethoven’s “Diabelli Variations,” a masterwork Kaufman knew little about. So the clerk explained how Beethoven became obsessed with an insignificant little waltz by the music publisher Anton Diabelli. And after initially refusing to compose a variation, as Diabelli had requested, Beethoven changed his mind and composed what turned out to be one of the greatest sets of variations ever written.

“As soon as he told me the story, I was smitten,” recalls Kaufman, who purchased Alfred Brendel’s highly-regarded recording. “Why did Beethoven write the variations? That’s the question that gnawed at me. I knew I wanted to write a play.”

Okay. Got it.

1 Comment

  1. Diabelli asked several composers to write variations.
    Most have been forgotten.
    Beethoven finished the bulk of the variations then set it aside to write the Missa Solemness and the Ninth symphony before getting back to finish the set.
    Recently in Seattle, the Quake ensemble sent out a call for scores for some new Diabelli variations.
    I don’t know if Quake’s web site is still extant but some of them are posted there.

    I, personally, wrote 36 of them (any thing Beethoven can do, I can do more of)

    I have the mp3 of mine posted at

    Check it out