I'm not a big movie watcher, but somehow the middle of summer always seems like a good time to curl up with a few good films. Maybe it's the heat? Anyhow, here is a list of movies and documentaries that center around classical music. It is by no means a comprehensive list, and if you know of a movie / documentary I missed feel free to leave a comment and I will add it to the list.
Hilary and Jackie (cellist Jaqueline DuPre)
Immortal Beloved (Beethoven)
Shine (pianist David Helfgott)
The Pianist (pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman)
The Red Violin
Copying Beethoven (Beethoven)
Tchaikovsky (a BBC mini series about, well, Tchaikovsky)
Solti: Orchestra! This was first aired in the US on PBS. It is an introduction to all the different sections of the orchestra, narrated by Sir Georg Solti and Dudley Moore. I saw it for the first time when I was starting to get serious about studying music and it was a huge influence on me. I highly recommend this for anyone who would like to better understand the inner workings of an orchestra.
Music From the Inside Out is a film that follows members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Through stories and interviews they try to explain why they play and what music means to them.
Keeping Score: MTT on Music. This film follows Michael Tilson Thomas (aka MTT), music director of the San Fransisco Symphony and the symphony members through the rehearsal and performance process of a Tchaikovsky symphony.
Of course, there are hundreds of operas, ballets, and symphony concerts available on DVD. I recently saw Doctor Atomic and have Wagner's Ring Cycle on my must-see list. Nothing beats the heat quite like a Wagner marathon.