You’ve got your shopping done and the presents wrapped. The last note of that holiday concert has faded into the night. All that’s left to do is relax and enjoy the season. For many music instructors and students, this is also the time of year when you get an extended break. There’s no better time to gather together with family and friends for some quality binge-watching.
In the spirit of the season, our gift to you is the following list of movie titles about classical musicians. Whether for the characters, plot, soundtrack or otherwise, we’re confident there's something here that everyone will find enjoyable.
High Strung — What happens when a classical violinist with an attitude who busks in the New York subway system meets a classical ballet dancer from the right side of the tracks and headed for a conservatory? Nothing good for the violinist — at first. Throw a hip-hop dance crew and a pairs competition into the mix, where dancers with a string accompanist vie for prize money. This 2016 drama will keep you on the edge of your seat. On Prime. Watch the trailer here.
Feral Love — If you’re as much into cats as you are classical music check out this moving documentary about violinist Dorian Rence. In 1976, at age 22, she became only the seventh woman to join the New York Philharmonic. In addition to her career as an elite classical musician, Rence devotes her time to caring for some of the city’s feral felines. Seven string musicians with the New York Philharmonic are featured. On Prime. Watch the trailer here.
Together — When rural violin prodigy Liu Xiaochun is taken by his widowed father Cheng to Beijing to perform in an elite competition, he has mixed results. Though the 13-year-old proves he has the talent to succeed at a youth conservatory, a technicality keeps him on the outside. Cheng is determined to see his son’s talent leveraged for a better life and seeks the help of an eccentric violin professor at the school. In Mandarin with English subtitles. On DVD. Winner of multiple awards, including Best International Film at the Florida Film Festival. Watch the trailer here.
Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky — Adapted from a 2002 novel loosely based on the two title characters and real events, the film’s foundation is Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, which debuted in Paris in 1913 with Chanel in the audience. The two meet several years later, after Stravinsky and his family flee Russia during the Communist Revolution. An illicit affair blooms and the two inspire each other to creative heights. Available to stream on iTunes, YouTube, Prime, Vudu, Google Play, and other platforms. Watch the trailer here.
Taking Sides – This drama, based on a true story, focuses on the American-led investigation of Wilhelm Furtwangler (Stellan Skarsgard), a famous German conductor suspected of working with the Nazis. Maj. Steve Arnold (Harvey Keitel) is charged with making an example of Furtwangler due to his status as a high-profile cultural figure, and pulls no punches in questioning him about possible ties to the Hitler regime. However, as Arnold presses forward, his assumptions about Furtwangler don't necessarily hold up. Available on Prime. Watch the trailer here.
Copying Beethoven – This 2006 award-winning film stars Ed Harris as Ludwig van Beethoven, and Diane Kruger as a young Vienna Music Conservatory student who finds her destiny forever interlinked with the legendary classical musician when she accepts a job as a copyist. In desperate need of a copyist to complete the "Ninth Symphony", Beethoven's ailing publisher enlists the aid of ambitious student Anna, who readily accepts the job despite an explicit warning that the composer is a callous wretch. As Anna begins to arduously copy Beethoven's career-defining work, her kindness causes the composer to view their collaboration as a blessing that will enable him to produce some of the most sublime music ever created. Available on Google Play. Watch the trailer here.
Fantasia – A night with the family or kids? Rediscover the Disney classic. Released in 1940, it represents Disney's boldest experiment to date, bringing to life his vision of blending animated imagery with classical music. What had begun as a vehicle to enhance Mickey Mouse's career blossomed into a full-blown feature that remains unique in the history of animation. Available on the Disney Channel or DVD. Watch a trailer here.
Amadeus — Yes, we’ve included this on a past list, but it’s just too good not to include! Unquestionably the best-known classical music movie, this film imagines Mozart’s life through the narration of pious rival Antonio Salieri, who resents Mozart’s talent and lust for life. Revel in a soundtrack of 19 selections from the Mozart catalog. This film essentially swept the 1985 Academy Awards, including wins for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Sound Mixing. A must watch for classical music lovers. Available to stream on iTunes, YouTube, Prime, Vudu, and Google Play. Watch the trailer below.
So, pour yourself a nice glass of eggnog, hot cocoa, or mulled wine, pop some corn, and cozy up on the couch and spend some of your time off with some entertaining viewing.
Want more suggestions? Take a look at our past blogs, 6 Top Movies About Classical Musicians for Holiday Enjoyment and Bingeworthy Holiday Entertainment.