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Music of the Heart (1999)

Story of a schoolteacher's struggle to teach violin to inner-city Harlem kids.



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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Dinhofer ...
Lexi at 5
Nick at 7
Robert Ari ...
Brian Turner
Taxi Driver
Dennis Rausch
Barbara Gonzalez ...
Janet's Secretary
DeSean at 11
Victoria Gómez ...
Lucy at 10 (as Victoria Gomez)
Bongo Kid
Justin 'DJ' Spaulding ...
Naeem Adisa at 9 (as Justin Spaulding)
Zoe Sternbach-Taubman ...
Guadalupe at 9


The true story of a young teacher who fights against the board of education in her bid to teach underprivileged kids in a Harlem school the beauty of music through the violin. In her struggle she loses everything as the system comes down on her with all their might but her determination for the kids happiness helps her to battle back with wonderfully inspirational results. Written by Kryp <capthowdee@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She gave them a gift they could never imagine. They gave the system a fight it would never forget.


Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for brief mild language and sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

29 October 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

50 Violins  »


Box Office


$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,653,281, 31 October 1999, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Before she signed on, Meryl Streep had never seen any of Wes Craven's movies, calling herself a "wimp" in regards to horror films. However, Streep's teenaged son lauded Craven's skills as a storyteller and she respected his success in the genre, so she signed on and the two enjoyed working together with Craven saying Streep "took me as an equal, as a collaborator and that was just a huge honor." See more »


In the very opening sequence, Roberts picks up a picture with her right hand, and holds the picture in the middle of the edge. In the next cut, her fingers have move from the top corner to the middle. Then when she goes to tear it, she moves her right hand first, but in the next cut, her left hand is at the top of the photo. See more »


Assunta Guaspari: I was the only one in the coffee shop not speaking Spanish. Boys, lunch!
[loud bang]
Assunta Guaspari: Oh! Gunshots!
Roberta Guaspari: That's a truck backfire, Mom.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Please support arts and music education. See more »


Referenced in Studio C: Episode #2.10 (2013) See more »


Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Performed by Young Musicians Foundation
Arranged by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki
Courtesy of Warner Chappell Music Inc.
By Arrangement with Summy-Birchard, a division of Warner Bros. Publications
See more »

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User Reviews

A truly amazing movie that is actually Wes Craven's best film.
24 October 2000 | by See all my reviews

Can you picture this odd couple: Meryl Streep stars in a Wes Craven movie? Seems like a joke at first, but it really isn't. "Music of the Heart" is the second film that horror director Wes Craven has made and surpasses his first non-horror film, "Vampire in Brooklyn".

It based on the life of Roberta Guaspari (Streep), a violin teacher who moves to East Harlem with her two sons after her husband left her for another woman. Roberta starts a program of her own, teaching young kids how to play the violin. One mother of one of her students describes it as "dead white man music", but Roberta uses the late Arthur Ashe, who was black and a great tennis player as a great example. In another scene, the mother tells Roberta that she was right.

Ten years later, Roberta has taught over a thousand children how to play the violin and some of her former students have either gone onto college or become violinists. A problem surfaces, the superintendent and board of education have made budget cuts. Roberta is told by Janet Williams (Angela Bassett), the princpal that the music program has been cut.

So Roberta vows to keep the program alive and gets the idea of having a benefit concert. She gets help from some of her friends and some parents to help promote the concert and the place where it'll be held. Bad news, the first place where the concert is going to be held in has a flood. The only other place that is mentioned is Carnegie Hall in Philadelphia.

The concert scene is one of the best scenes in the movie. Some of Roberta's first students come back to join some of current her pupils. Also, some of the best-known violinists in the world have come as well, Issac Stern, Mark O'Connor, Arnold Steinhardt, and Itzhak Perlman are among them. Watching O'Connor play was fun to see. I admit that is the concert is memorable and great to watch as the one put up in "The Blues Brothers".

The emotional energy in this film never lets down at one moment. Bassett, Quinn, and Jay O. Sanders are good in their supporting roles. The movie is great and it stays with the story. Wes Craven deserved an Oscar nomination for Best Director and Streep is great.

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