Musical Binge Watching on Neflix/Amazon Prime This Summer
Summer’s here and the time is right for some serious downtime. And what better way to do that than kicking back and settling in to binge watch some great movies about classical music? To help, we’ve compiled a list of eight titles streaming on either Netflix or Prime.
Most, but not all, of these titles are centered around classical music. Each tells a story about the passion, creative spirit, and struggles all musicians can relate to. So, put some fresh batteries in the remote, butter up the popcorn, and settle in for some quality time between you and your screen.
1. Mozart’s Sister — No scholarly or creative stone has been left unturned in examining the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But when it comes to Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart, not so much. This 2010 film explores the question, Was Mozart’s sister actually the most talented musician in the family? Born five years ahead of Wolfgang, Nannerl stood out as a musical prodigy. The siblings performed together and collaborated, but Nannerl’s career came to an abrupt end while her brother’s name was being etched in history. Watch on Prime (not included with subscription, but available to rent for $2.99). Watch the trailer here.
2. Mr. Holland’s Opus — Teaching was not Glenn Holland’s goal. Like many serious musicians, however, he had to find a way to pay the bills while working on his masterpiece. When the opportunity to teach music presents itself, Holland takes it, thinking it will be a short-term gig. What unfolds in this 1995 drama is how Holland touches the lives of countless students. Watch on Prime. Watch the trailer here.
3. Grace of My Heart — Edna, a young composer/performer from Philadelphia (Ileana Douglas) wins a recording contract in a talent contest and moves to the Big Apple hoping to make her mark. While Edna fails to impress as a musician, she gets the attention of a quirky producer, played by John Turturro, who sees in her an exceptional songwriter. This 1996 film, loosely based on Carole King, showcases the creative process while telling a story about artistic expression, love, and loss. The original soundtrack features rich orchestral work. Watch on Prime. Watch the trailer here.
4. The Devil’s Violinist — According to some critics, David Garrett was an excellent choice to portray early to mid-19th century violin/viola/guitar virtuoso Niccolò Paganini – for his playing. His acting may not be Oscar-worthy, but any shortcomings Garrett may have in that arena are far from a fatal flaw in a 2013 film that delivers a rich cinematic experience. And it's worth watching to see Garrett play some mean violin. Watch on Netflix (or $2.99 on Prime). Watch a trailer here, or the clip below.
5. A Late Quartet — As the 25th anniversary of an acclaimed New York-based string quartet approaches, the members – played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, and Mark Ivanir – are preparing to celebrate with a performance of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131. An unforeseen medical diagnosis presents a new perspective on the concert. Despite riveting performances by the ensemble cast, Beethoven is the real star of this emotionally charged 2012 film. Watch on Prime. Watch the trailer here.
6. Highly Strung — We had to include this 2015 documentary from down under about a string quartet, which is as entertaining as it is informative. As well as these four passionate, virtuoso musicians come across on film, they almost play second fiddle to the Guadagninis with which they are entrusted. Written and directed by Scott Hicks (seven Oscar nominations for Shine), the film offers an insightful look into the world of classical music and collectors of fine instruments. It offers some surprises. Watch on Neflix (available on Prime for $1.99). Watch the trailer here.
7. Crazy — And now for a lead performance by someone recognized as much for his acting chops as his musical gifts, this 2007 drama tells the story of renowned country, rock, and jazz guitarist Hank Garland, played by Waylon Payne. Garland helped propel hits by Hall of Famers such as Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, the Everly Brothers, and Roy Orbison, and performed with luminaries such as Charlie Parker. He also advocated for artists’ rights and was influential in the development of the Gibson L-5 guitar. Watch on Prime. Watch the trailer here.
8. A Perfect Chord — This is teen drama of the musical kind, but one that musicians of any age can relate to. Cadence and Mika are both extraordinary young musicians who have vastly different obstacles keeping each from reaching her full potential. For Cadence, a guitar player/singer, it’s a debilitating case of stage fright. Mika, a pianist, carries the weight of expectations of her classically trained parents. Together, the girls have an opportunity to break free of the issues keeping them from fulfillment. If you like films that inspire, this one from 2015 is what you’re looking for. Watch on Prime. Watch the trailer here, or the clip below.
Now that you have your list, it’s time to relax, recharge, and allow yourself the pleasure of enjoying a wide variety of films that all have the common thread of music passion running through them.
Want more inspiration? Take a look at our past blog in which we compiled 6 top movies about classical musicians for holiday enjoyment.