Stig Eriksson (Stig Olin) is violinist in the Helsingborg orchestra. He thinks he is ready for a career as soloist. TILL GLÄDJE shows how his ambition and inability to resign himself to his own mediocrity lead him and his family to disaster.
The film tells the story of the marriage of Stig and his wife Marta (Maj-Britt Nilsson), new members in the orchestra. The cantankerous old conductor Sönderby (Victor Sjöström) welcomes them and begins the rehearsal – the first of several lengthy scenes with music by Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Mozart, Smetana and of course Beethoven, whose “Ode to Joy” after Friedrich Schiller’s poem in the 9th Symphony provides the film’s title.
At a party at Marta’s place Stig blubbers about how great he plays the violin. Marta falls in love with him despite his egotistical behaviour and they get married, with Sönderby as witness. Stig badgers Sönderby until he finally gives him the opportunity to perform as solo violinist. The concert is a catastrophe. Stig becomes more and more insufferable and turns his attentions to the young wife Nelly with the approval of her husband, the aging actor Mikael Bro. The old conductor has a comforting message: Music, he says, is a joy beyond pain and boundless despair. It’s a joy beyond all understanding.