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Music of the Heart is a 1999 dramatic film. This film was produced by Craven-Maddalena Films and Miramax Films, and distributed by Buena Vista Distribution.

This film stars Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn, Gloria Estefan, and Angela Bassett. It was director Wes Craven's only foray outside of the horror/thriller genre aside from his contribution to the multifacted and directorially diverse Paris, je t'aime. It was also his only film to get nominated at the Academy Awards. Wes Craven is known for directing the horror films A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes and the Scream trilogy.


This is the true story of Roberta Guaspari (Meryl Streep). By bringing the violin into the lives of children in the New York Citymarker public school system, she hopes to brighten their difficult lives.

Described in the opening credits as being 'inspired by a documentary,' the film opens with Roberta having been deserted by her husband and feeling devastated, almost suicidal. Encouraged by her mother, she attempts to rebuild her life and a friend recommends her to the head teacher of a school in the tough New Yorkmarker area of East Harlemmarker. Despite a degree in music education, she has little experience in actual music teaching, but she's taken on as a substitute violin teacher. With a combination of toughness and determination, she inspires a group of kids, and their initially skeptical parents. The program slowly develops and attracts publicity.

Ten years later, the string program is still running successfully, but suddenly the school budget is cut and Roberta is out of a job. Determined to fight the cuts, she enlists the support of former pupils, parents and teachers and plans a grand fund-raising concert 'Fiddlefest', to raise money so that the program can continue. But with a few weeks to go and all participants furiously rehearsing, they lose the venue. Fortunately, the husband of a publicist friend is a violinist in a string quartet, and he enlists the support of other well-known musicians, including Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman. They arrange for the concert to be mounted at Carnegie Hallmarker. Other famous musicians join in the performance, which is a resounding success.

Awards and nominations

Streep received nominations for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her lead performance.

The film's theme song, "Music Of My Heart", scored songwriter Diane Warren a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and a Grammy Award nomination for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.


  • Streep learned to play a Bach violin concerto for this film.
  • Madonna was originally signed to play the role of Roberta Guaspari Demetras, but left the project before filming began, citing "creative differences" with Wes Craven. She had already studied for many months to play the violin. The children of Opus 118 - Harlem School of Music, led by Roberta Guaspari, performed with Madonna twice in 1998: "Frozen" at the Annual Rain Forest Benefit at Carnegie Hall, New York and at the 1998 VH1 Fashion Awards performing "The Power of Good-Bye".
  • This film marked the screen debut of singer Gloria Estefan.
  • Wes Craven said that he would only direct Scream 3, if he could direct this movie.

Critical Reception

The film got mixed reviews but with a positive trend. Most critics applauded Meryl Streep's portrayal of Roberta Guaspari. The film had a 68% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Critic Eleanor Ringel Gillespie of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution concluded that "There are more challenging movies around. More original ones, too. But "Music of the Heart" gets the job done, efficiently and entertainingly." Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four and wrote that "Meryl Streep is known for her mastery of accents; she may be the most versatile speaker in the movies. Here you might think she has no accent, unless you've heard her real speaking voice; then you realize that Guaspari's speaking style is no less a particular achievement than Streep's other accents. This is not Streep's voice, but someone else's - with a certain flat quality, as if later education and refinement came after a somewhat unsophisticated childhood." Steve Rosen said that "The key to Meryl Streep's fine performance is that she makes Guaspari unheroically ordinary. Ultimately that makes her even more extraordinary."

Soundtrack album track listing

  1. "Music Of My Heart" - Gloria Estefan and 'N Sync (4:32)
  2. "Baila" - Jennifer Lopez (3:54)
  3. "Turn the Page" - Aaliyah (4:16)
  4. "Groove With Me Tonight (Pablo Flores English Radio Version)" - Menudo (4:37)
  5. "Seventeen" - Tre O (3:48)
  6. "One Night With You" - C Note (5:04)
  7. "Do Something (Organized Noize Mix)" - Macy Gray (3:53)
  8. "Revancha de Amor" - Gizelle d'Cole (4:06)
  9. "Nothing Else" - Julio Iglesias, Jr. (4:23)
  10. "Love Will Find You" - Jaci Velasquez (4:34)
  11. "Music Of My Heart" (Pablo Flores Remix) - Gloria Estefan and 'N Sync (4:23)
  12. "Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins" - Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell (3:56)


  1. Awards for "Music of the Heart" (1999) IMDb. Accessed January 28, 2007.
  2. Awards for "Music of the Heart" (1999) IMDb. Accessed January 28, 2007.
  3. Levy, Rochelle "The Achievement of Meryl Streep" American Film Institute, 2004 AFI Lifetime Achievement Award biographical article. Accessed January 28, 2007.
  4. "Review: 'Music of the Heart' hits all the right notes" CNN, October 29, 1999. Accessed January 28, 2007.]
  5. The Offiical Opus 118 Harlem School of Music Website
  6. "Review: 'Music of the Heart' hits all the right notes" CNN, October 29, 1999. Accessed January 28, 2007.
  8. Rotten Tomatoes, Music of the Heart Movie Reviews
  9. Ringel Gillespie, Eleanor, The Atlanta Journal-Constituional, 1998, Music of the Heart Movie Review
  10. Ebert, Roger, 1998, Music of the Heart Movie Review
  11. Rosen, Steve, 1998, Music of the Heart Movie Review

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