After devoting his career to such horror films as Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Last House on the Left, director Wes Craven makes a dramatic change of pace with this inspiring drama about a teacher who helps change the lives of her students. Roberta Guaspari-Tzavaras (Meryl Streep) teaches at an elementary school in Harlem, where discipline is a higher priority than the lively arts. But Roberta believes that studying music will give the children a sense of purpose invaluable in later life. Despite indifference from the school administration and budget cuts that force her to seek outside funding (and even threaten her job), Roberta struggles to teach the violin to her students, instilling a love of classical music in kids who might otherwise never have heard Bach or Mozart, and leading to a student recital at Carnegie Hall. Angela Bassett, Cloris Leachman, and Aidan Quinn highlight the supporting cast, and virtuoso violinists Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, and Mark O'Connor appear as themselves. The Music of the Heart is based on a true story; the real Roberta Guaspari-Tzavaras and her students can be seen in the documentary Small Wonders.
by Mark Deming synopsis