Ludwig and the Hammerklavier

1818! Join the cranky-but-friendly, idealistic-but- ... tired? ... Beethoven in his flat for drinks, a chat, and some piano. In a “raptus”, he takes measure of his life by scribbling measures for a new sonata, the Hammerklavier -- a work (celebrating its bicentennial this year!) that pulls him from a rut and heralds his “Late Period” (and his final years...)

Celebrating the Hammerklavier sonata’s 200th anniversary of publication, and will celebrate the 250th anniversary/birthday of Beethoven next year, 2020, as the show goes on tour.

World premiere for the Vancouver Fringe!

illustration of Beethoven


“Tickets are available at vancouver fringe for $15 plus Membership.”

Appropriate for all ages. (Although, there is some mild potty mouth!)

The Play

It is 1818, and Ludwig van Beethoven warmly welcomes an Englishman who is delivering a gift to his flat – a sturdy Broadwood piano from London. They drink, and Ludwig enters into a “raptus” (the rambling trance-like state he is susceptible to whenever he’s in the midst of Creation). He shares with his guest some of his new sonata, the Hammerklavier, which he promises will be the greatest sonata he ever writes.

The play has four scenes, one for each of the four movements of the Hammerklavier. Scene/movement one, the Allegro, is formally classical, ambitious, and full of vigor – matching Ludwig’s Early Period, his childhood and early adulthood in Bonn, as he strove to attain Mozart’s greatness. Bits of Bach and Mozart are played, along with his earliest successes, such as the Pathétique.

Scene/movement two, the Scherzo, is fast, healthy, and light -- as Ludwig was in his earliest days in Vienna. He rejoices in Nature (his temple) by playing some of his Pastoral sonata. But this movement also hints at coming war and tribulation, with its Eroica theme variation. Remembering Napoleon, Beethoven plays some of his Les Adieux and Tempest for the English visitor.

With scene/movement three (the famed Adagio), the structure of the play and sonata both evolve out of classical form and into Beethoven’s Middle Period, into modernity, as Ludwig suffers unrequited love, illness, deafness, family strife, and financial hardship, leading finally to a deep and artistically fruitless depression, punctuated by Waldstein and Appassionata sonata themes.

The fourth scene/movement finally breaks this raptus and returns us to the "present". Ludwig and the play work within an ambitious and experimental form -- a new type of Fugue -- for this final movement. He will challenge himself as he never has before, and throw down a gauntlet to any performer who dares to play it, or any audience who wants to hear it. He revels in its ridiculous complexity -- for as his mother taught him, "what is difficult, is good."

official selection

fringe festival logo

The Troupe

The Boondogglers are “agit-info” performers from the Seattle area. Freaking out audiences since their Seattle Fringe Festival days in the ‘90s, they return from hiatus to keep confusing, educating, and utterly entertaining audiences. James Jordan wrote five plays with The Boondogglers, including eMpTy V, a Seattle New City Playwrights Festival Finalist, and CJD: USA, spotlighted by The New York Times during UTC’s NeuroFEST.

Previously from the Boondogglers


Boondogglers last show: "Whackjob: the Cog-Sci Spectator Study", an agit-prop play about pharmaceutical multinationals, psychopathy, unethical human clinical trials, and cognitive science, performed at Vancouver Fringe Festival in Vancouver, BC, and West of Lenin Theater in Seattle, WA, 2014.

Drama in the Hood review

C.J.D., U.S.A

"C.J.D., U.S.A.", a play about C.J.D. and 9-11, where America's short-term memory loss becomes America's "rapidly progressive dementia", for Untitled Theater Company #61’s “NEUROFest”, New York City, 2006.

New York Times review
The Scientist review