Document Type

Book Chapter


In his last major radio appearance, in 2004 on the Swedish talk show Sommar, Ingmar Bergman devoted most of the time to his musical interests, highlighting his belief that music transcends language and manifests a deeply philosophical vision of life and beyond: music is a gift—a divine one, although Bergman did not mention God—given to provide hints of realities beyond our perception. Through analyses of the films and manuscript materials in the Ingmar Bergman Archives, this chapter focuses on four instances of interaction between music and dialogue in Bergman’s films that resonate with his comments in the show: music is able to communicate where words cannot in To Joy (1950), words and music interact to support the structure of the narrative in Autumn Sonata (1978), words about music provide powerful metaphors and communicate central parts of the narrative in Saraband (2003), and finally, music and the creation of music structure the entire narrative in In the Presence of a Clown (1997). Despite the stylistic shifts in his oeuvre across the decades of filmmaking, Bergman’s views of music, as represented in his work, have been surprisingly consistent. Whether seen through Beethoven’s Ninth overcoming death in To Joy or music’s emergence as an existential motif in Saraband, through its metaphoric uses of works and modes of performance, Bergman’s films reveal and are profoundly shaped by his belief in the essential, metaphysical nature of music.

Publication Date


Publication Title

Ingmar Bergman: An Enduring Legacy


Manchester University Press