'What Never Was Has Ended': Bach, Bergman and the Beatles in Christopher Münch’s 'the Hours and Times'

Carlo Cenciarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article focuses on the use of Bach’s Goldberg Variations in Christopher Münch’s The Hours and Times (1991), a pioneering example of New Queer Cinema that takes as its subject matter a trip made by John Lennon and Brian Epstein to Barcelona, infusing it with homoerotic overtones. I unpick the particular cultural mediations at work in this strange assemblage of eighteenth-century keyboard music, 1960s rock icons, and late twentieth-century identity politics. This leads me to explore Glenn Gould’s post-war popularization of the Goldberg, a metaphorical connection between Bach’s music and Barcelona’s distinctive architecture, and, first and foremost, the emergence of the ‘act of listening to Bach’ as a trope in Ingmar Bergman’s cinema. I show how Münch draws on Bach, and particularly on Bergman’s use of the Goldberg Variations in The Silence (1963), to provide a reading of the Beatles’ story that attempts to be sensitive to the elusiveness of time and gender.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-137
JournalMusic and Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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