Cosy up this weekend with a smattering of Bergman-related musical entertainment! Every Saturday [update: a Saturday every now and then], we offer up a new song that relates to Bergman in some interesting manner. Over time, we plan on building up a pretty-little playlist suitable for any occasion, aptly entitled The Original Ingmar Bergman Spotify Playlist. (For more on Bergman and music, click here.)
Satuday song #5 is:
The main character of the television piece In the Presence of a Clown is uncle Carl Åkerblom, engineer and recurring Bergman figure. Set in the early 20th century, the film opens with Åkerblom sitting alone in his hospital room – he is admitted in an asylum – playing the same piece over and over again on a grammophone: the first eight measures of 'Der Leiermann' ('The Organ Grinder'), the last lied of Schubert's cycle Die Winterreise.
Discharged from the hospital, Åkerblom starts working on what is meant to be the world's first talkie, about 'the passionate love story between the genius Franz Schubert and fille de joie Mizzi Veith.'
For this reason, Käbi Laretei and Hanns Rodell perform a number of Schubert pieces in this TV film. Seemingly a bit odd that this very composer should feature so prominently in such a late Bergman production, as only one other Schubert piece is featured in all his other films, when Impromptu Nr. 3 from Theme and Variations in B-Major makes a brief aural appearance in Fanny and Alexander.
Bergmans script is subtitled 'Eight improvisations, with the eighth written as a rondel'.
Hence, and as so many times before, Bergman thought of his opus not only to be about music, but also being music.