List of Films About Pianists

The following is a list of films about pianists or in which pianists play a significant role.

  • Amadeus (1984): A drama based on the lives of composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (played by Tom Hulce) and Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham).
  • Appassionata (1944): Starred Viveca Lindfors. Parts of Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata, as well as passages from his Fifth and Seventh symphonies recur frequently in the film, both as part of the music performed within the story, and as background music
  • The Beat That My Heart Skipped (De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté, French, 2005): Drama about an aspiring pianist (Romain Duris) with an unpleasant day job. Remake of Fingers (1978 film).
  • Beyond 88 Keys (2004): A documentary film about the life of Michael Arnowitt, a Vermont peace activist and classical pianist (directed by Susan Bettmann).
  • The Competition (1980): A drama portraying a story of professional drive and romance between two fictional pianists played by Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving. One of the pieces featured is Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major.
  • Copying Beethoven (2006): A fictional take on the final year of composer Beethoven's (Ed Harris) life as he composes his Ninth Symphony.
  • Dangerous Moonlight (1941): Stars Anton Walbrook as a pianist who plays the Warsaw Concerto. The soundtrack was performed by Louis Kentner.
  • The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989): Drama about two pianist brothers (played by Jeff and Beau Bridges) and a singer. Many jazz/pop pieces are featured in the film, including Can't Take My Eyes Off You, Ten Cents A Dance, The Look of Love, Makin' Whoopee, You're Sixteen, and My Funny Valentine.
  • Fame (1980): A drama that follows several performing arts students through their studies. The pianist in particular is challenged to combine new technology with traditional views of keyboard instruments. Popular songs I Sing the Body Electric and Fame are performed.
  • Fingers (1978): Drama about a pianist (Harvey Keitel) with an unpleasant day job.
  • Five Easy Pieces (1970): Drama about a former piano prodigy, played by Jack Nicholson estranged from his family. The soundtrack includes movements from Mozart's Concerto in E-flat major, K.271, Fantasy in D minor, K.397, and Chopin's Preludes.
  • Four Minutes
  • Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (2010): Biography of Glenn Gould.
  • The Getting of Wisdom (1977): Drama about a young girl's struggle for acceptance and love in a girls' school in colonial Australia. The setting is her piano studies for her performance at a competition.
  • Great Balls of Fire! (1989): Film that follows the life of pianist and teen idol Jerry Lee Lewis as played by Dennis Quaid. It features many of the artist's hits such as Great Balls of Fire, Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On, and Wild One.
  • Immortal Beloved (1994): A biopic on the life of composer Ludwig van Beethoven, starring Gary Oldman. Moonlight Sonata, Emperor Concerto, Pathétique Sonata, Piano Trio No. 4 in D major, Op. 70/1, and Für Elise are among the piano pieces played.
  • Impromptu (1991): A romance film depicting the relationship between Frédéric Chopin (played by Hugh Grant) and George Sand (Judy Davis). Julian Sands also makes an appearance as Franz Liszt. The film features works by Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, selections from Preludes, Op. 28, Minute Waltz, Fantaisie-Impromptu; and Liszt: Dante Sonata, Transcendental Etude No. 4 "Mazeppa".
  • Je te mangerais. (2007)
  • The Last Song (2010): Based on a Nicholas Sparks novel and centered on a rebellious girl, Ronnie, who is sent to a Southern beach town for the summer to stay with her father. Through their mutual love of music, the estranged duo learn to reconnect. Ronnie plays the piece she helped finished on her father's funeral. This movie starred Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth.
  • The Legend of 1900 (1998)
  • Lisztomania (1975), Franz Liszt biography
  • Madame Sousatzka (1988): Fictional story of a Bengali piano prodigy (Navin Chowdhry) who must choose between pleasing his mother and his talented but unsuccessful teacher (Shirley MacLaine). Some of the better known featured pieces are Schubert's Impromptu No. 4, Scriabin's Etude in D-sharp minor, Op. 8/12, Chopin's C minor Prelude and Polonaise in A flat major, Schumann's Carnaval and Piano Concerto in A minor, Brahms's Concerto No. 1 in D minor, and Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata.
  • The Mephisto Waltz (1971): A horror film where a dying pianist arranges to change souls with an aspiring musician, played by Alan Alda, so he can continue to play piano. As the title suggests, the film makes much use of Franz Liszt's Mephisto Waltzes.
  • Passion (1999): A biopic of the pianist and composer Percy Grainger, starring Richard Roxburgh
  • The Pianist (1991): Two sisters are infatuated with a Japanese pianist played by Eiji Okuda.
  • The Pianist (1998): A drama starring Serge Reggiani and Laurent Terzieff that follows the contrasting lives of two pianist friends set during the Spanish Civil War.
  • The Pianist (2002): Depicts the true story of Polish pianist Władysław Szpilman, played by Adrien Brody, in the Jewish Ghetto of 1940's Warsaw. Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G minor were some of the more popular pieces played.
  • The Piano (1993)
  • The Piano Teacher (2001)
  • Ray (2004): A biopic of Ray Charles, starring Jamie Foxx
  • Scott Joplin (1977): A biopic of the pianist and composer Scott Joplin, starring Billy Dee Williams
  • September Affair (1950): A fictional story about an architect and a pianist who is preparing to play Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto. They have an affair when they are wrongly believed to have perished on board an airliner that crashed into the sea.
  • The Seventh Veil (1945): A fictional story about a piano student and her controlling uncle, played by Ann Todd and James Mason. The uncredited pianist was Eileen Joyce, who played the Rachmaninoff 2nd Concerto, Grieg's Concerto in A minor and solo pieces by Mozart, Chopin and Beethoven (the slow movement of the Pathétique Sonata assumed a particular importance in the film).
  • Shine (1996): About the life of David Helfgott, starring Geoffrey Rush and Sir John Gielgud; Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 (referred to as "the Rach 3") is prominently featured.
  • A Song to Remember (1945): About the life of Frédéric Chopin, starring Cornel Wilde; George Sand is played by Merle Oberon. The pianist on the soundtrack was José Iturbi.
  • Song Without End (1960): About the life of Franz Liszt, starring Dirk Bogarde. The pianist on the soundtrack was Jorge Bolet.
  • Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988)
  • Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993): A collection of documentary type footage and reenactments of the life of pianist Glenn Gould. Several well known piano pieces are played including selections from Bach's Goldberg Variations, English Suites, and The Well-Tempered Clavier; Beethoven's Sonata No. 13 in E-flat major, Op. 27/1 and Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31/2; and Schoenberg's Sechs kleine Klavierstücke, Op. 19.
  • Wherever She Goes (1951): About the early life of Eileen Joyce in Australia.
  • The Page Turner (2006)

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