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Beethoven’s Obsession Becomes Kaufman’s ‘33 Variations’

What is the nature of obsession? We explore Beethoven's obsession with a mediocre waltz as it's dramatized in the La Jolla Playhouse's new production of writer and director Moises Kaufman's “33 Varia

Beethoven’s Obsession Becomes Kaufman’s ‘33 Variations’

Tom Fudge: Beethoven was one of the world's great composers. The same certainly cannot be said of Anton Diabelli. In fact, he wasn't really even a composer. In the early 19th Century, Diabelli was a businessman; a music publisher who wrote a simplistic little waltz and invited some famous Viennese composers to write variations on it.

One of those composers was Ludwig Van Beethoven, who first turned his nose up at Diabelli's invitation. But then he heard the waltz and proceeded to spend four years writing 33 variations on it.


Playwright Moises Kaufman has written a play called 33 Variations about what Beethoven did, and why he did it.


  • Diane Walsh , pianist who recorded a CD of Beethoven's 33 Variations
  • Moises Kaufman, director and playwright of 33 Variations . His past plays The Laramie Project, I Am My Own Wife , and Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde have won numerous awards and been among the most performed plays in America over the last decade.