Feature Film, 1950

To Joy

A mediocre violinist dreams of a successful solo career as doubts creep into his marriage.

"A kerosene stove explodes portentously in the beginning of the film, and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is shamelessly exploited."
Ingmar Bergman in Images

About the film

Ingmar Bergman and Birger Malmsten had travelled down to the French Riviera on holiday.

Reminiscing in Bergman on Bergman: 

Then I met some friends down there – painters and so forth – they were hardly ever quite sober – so there I sat, and began to feel all romantic about my marriage – my then marriage, that is to say one I'd just taken extreme delight in ripping to pieces in Three Strange Loves. I got a bit sentimental and began thinking about my time in Hälsingborg, what fun it had all been, the symphony orchestra, and how I wasn't such a genius as I'd imagined. The first real setbacks, you see, had begun to put in an appearence. But I thought to myself: 'even if one is only a mediocrity, still one must function'. So then I made up some sort of consolation for myself. That's the infantry who are important in culture, not the more dashing cavalry. It all turned out into quite a harmonious film. The only trouble was, I couldn't find an end to it. So I made up that operatic ending with the kitchen stove blowing up. 

Sources of inspiration 

The musical leitmotif in the film and the inspiration for its title is the final movement of Beethoven's Symphony number 9, the Choral Symphony, the famous setting of Schiller's Ode to Joy.

From Bergman on Bergman: 

The symphony orchestra in Helsingborg, though severaly lacking in sophistification, exuberantly played the canon of major symphonies. As often as time and circumstances allowed, I sat in on orchestra rehearsals. For their reason finale they planned to perform Beethoven's Ninth. I was allowed to borrow the score from the conductor, Sten Frykberg, and could actively follow, note by noto, the musicians and the members of the unpaid but passionate amateur choir. It was apowerful and touching event. I thought it was a magnificent idea for a film. It seemed so natural I tripped over the idea. I changed the theatrical people in my autobiographical film to musicians and gave it the title To Joy after Beethoven's symphony. [...] That the film's young violinist plays Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with about the same lackluster skill as I exhibited in Crisis is just part of the whole story.

Shooting the film

The film was shot during the summer of 1949, beginning in the middle of July. The final takes were completed in early September. The exteriors were shot in the southern Swedish town of Helsingborg and the area around neighbouring Arild. A few years earlier Bergman had been the head of the Helsingborg City Theatre, and was therefore very familiar with the town.

The orchestral sequences were recorded at the Swedish Academy of Music with the assistance of sound technicians from the AGA sound film laboratory and Swedish radio. At the Spegel cinema in Stockholm where the film was premièred, they set up a special sound system with extra speakers, one on each side of the screen. This system was highly effective in the major orchestral passages.

Two pioneers from the Golden Age of Swedish silent film took part in To Joy: the actor John Ekman and the director and actor, Victor Sjöström. This was to be Ekman's final film, whereas in Wild Strawberries, Bergman handed Sjöström one more leading role as the elderly Professor Isak Borg.


  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.
  • Ingmar Bergman, Images: My Life in Film.
  • Stig Björkman, Torsten Manns & Jonas Sima, Bergman on Bergman, (New York: Da Capo P., 1993).


  • Maj-Britt Nilsson, Marta Olsson, violinist
  • Stig Olin, Stig Eriksson, violinist, her husband
  • Birger Malmsten, Marcel, cellist
  • John Ekman, Mikael Bro, older actor
  • Margit Carlqvist, Nelly Bro, his young wife
  • Victor Sjöström, Söderby, conductor
  • Sif Ruud, Stina
  • Erland Josephson, Bertil, skådespelare
  • Ernst Brunman, Konserthusvaktmästare
  • Allan Ekelund, Vigselförrättaren
  • Maud Hyttenberg, expedit i leksaksaffären
  • Berit Holmström, Lisa, Martas och Stigs flicka
  • Eva Fritz-Nilsson, Lisa som treåring
  • Björn Montin, Lasse, Martas och Stigs pojke
  • Staffan Axelsson, Lasse som treåring
  • Georg Skarstedt, Anker, flöjtist
  • Svea Holst, sjuksyster på BB
  • Ingmar Bergman, väntande man på BB
  • Tor Borong, väntande man på BB
  • Astrid Bodin, gäst på Martas födelsedagsfest
  • Marianne Schüler, gäst på Martas födelsedagsfest
  • Marrit Ohlsson, gäst på Martas födelsedagsfest
  • Rune Stylander, Persson, orkestermedlem
  • Agda Helin, sjuksyster på BB
  • Gunnar Rystedt, orkestermedlem
  • Carin Swensson, nybliven mor på BB
  • Svea Holm, nybliven mor på BB
  • Dagny Lind, mormor
  • Nils Svenwall, Arkitekt
  • Bengt Järnmark, B-foto
  • Aaby Wedin, B-ljud
  • Gunnar Fischer, Foto
  • Oscar Rosander, Klippning
  • Sven Hansen, Ljudtekniker
  • -, Musik
  • Eskil Eckert-Lundin, Orkesterledare
  • Ingegerd Ericsson, Scripta
  • Louis Huch, Stillbildsfoto