Music of the Heart

Docudrama |  English | 135 minutes


Roberta Guaspari, a talented violinist,  recently divorced, unemployed, depressed, is  living at home with her domineering mother Assunta while struggling  to raise two sons. Her current boyfriend, Brian Turner, suggests she  teach violin to students at an East Harlem school in Manhattan.  The stern, no-nonsense principal, Janet Williams, is unresponsive to Roberta’s unconventional ideas of teaching music to inner city kids. Roberta talks her way to  getting  hired as a substitute teacher. To Janet’s amazement, Roberta succeeds beyond expectations. But then New York City severely cuts the budget for the Board of Education,  Roberta is dismissed and her entire program terminated. A well-connected, wealthy supporter, Dorothea von Haeften, convinces Roberta  she can raise  money and continue the program by holding a benefit featuring her students playing violin classics. Dorothea is  able to wangle Carnegie Hall. The program, with these kids, has so impressed  giants like Itzhak Perlman and Isaac Stern,  they asked to join the students playing Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins. The benefit is a huge success. Roberta can  continue doing her magnificent job. Her students, surrounded by drugs and crime, will  learn and play violin pieces by Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven.    

Meryl Streep (Roberta Guaspari) / Cloris Leachman (Assuta Guaspari) / Aidan Quinn (Brian Turner) / Angela Bassett (Janet Williams) / Jane Leeves (Dorothea von Haeften)
Guest Appearances

Itzhak Perlman / Isaac Stern / Arnold Steinhardt / Mark O’Connor, Michael Tree / Charles Veal, Jr. / Karen Briggs / Sandra Park / Diane Monroe / Joshua Bell

Why Stream This Film?
Roberta Guaspari, brilliantly portrayed by Meryl Streep, cofounded the Opus 118 Harlem School of Music and fought for music education funding in New York City public schools. She convinced the Board of Education of  the power of music to stimulate  students with beauty, pleasure, and a sense of accomplishment. Amen!    
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 64%
  • Metacritic Score: 54
  • Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Actress (Meryl Streep)
  • Golden Globes: Nominated, Best Actress (Meryl Streep)
  • CinemaScore gave the film  a rare A+ grade
Most movies claiming to be based on fact pour on the melodrama, but this one basically just sticks to the real story, which has all the emotional wallop that’s needed.
Roger Ebert

Not many of us enjoy being lectured by dressed-down Hollywood stars in gritty classroom situations, but Ms. Guaspari’s story has been given a blunt, no-nonsense tone that works. 
Janet Maslin

The New York Times

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