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November 17, 2010

Top 10 Films about Classical Music
(Part I)

Classical music has enhanced the drama and romance in film since the days of silent movies. Over the decades it has continued to be a staple in the repertoire of film scores from Disney’s Fantasia to Coppola’s The Godfather. Rarer, though, are films that focus specifically on classical music and the musicians who play it. Here are some of our favorite films, all of which are available through Netflix or Amazon.com.

The Red Violin (1998)

Spanning continents and centuries, this is a fascinating tale about the travels of the title instrument with an entrancing score, written by John Corigliano and performed by Joshua Bell.

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Shine (1996)

Geoffrey Rush portrays Australian piano prodigy David Helfgott in a virtuoso performance that won Rush a much-deserved Academy Award. Sir John Gielgud, Lynn Redgrave and Armin Mueller-Stahl also shine in supporting roles.

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Immortal Beloved (1994)

Gary Oldman's committed portrayal of the passions and trials of Beethoven is alone worth watching this film, which also boasts a fine supporting cast.

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Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993)

Francois Girard's quirky, prismatic take on the deeply quirky pianist is a must-see for any music lover.

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The Piano (1993)

Jane Campion's fever-dream, set in 19th-century New Zealand, about the potency of music, whatever the cost. Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin both won Oscars for their performances.

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Tous les Matins du monde (1991)

Gorgeously filmed and acted depiction of the relationship between viola da gamba players Sainte Colombe and Marin Marais, starring Gerard Depardieu and his son, Guillaume.

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Impromptu (1991)

Sexy and sad fun with a moveable salon of 19th-century artistes, centering on the relationship between Frederic Chopin (played by Hugh Grant) and the French female author Georges Sand (played by Judy Davis).

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Amadeus (1984)

A brilliantly entertaining, historically dubious fantasy about genius (Mozart's), envy (Salieri's) and transcendence. Milos Forman's masterful drama won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for F. Murray Abraham’s portrayal of Salieri.

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Brief Encounter (1945)

Rachmaninov at his most gushingly romantic is cunningly, ironically repurposed in David Lean's transformation of a Noel Coward story about love unfulfilled.

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A Night at the Opera (1935)

Il trovatore gets its comeuppance in one of the Marx Brothers' best.

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Top 10 Films about Classical Music