A fictionalised exploration of Beethoven’s life in his final days working on his Ninth Symphony. It is 1824. Beethoven is racing to finish his new symphony. However, it has been years since his last success and he is plagued by deafness, loneliness and personal trauma. A copyist is urgently needed to help the composer. A fictional character is introduced in the form of a young conservatory student and aspiring composer named Anna Holtz. The mercurial Beethoven is skeptical that a woman might become involved in his masterpiece but slowly comes to trust in Anna’s assistance and in the end becomes quite fond of her. By the time the piece is performed, her presence in his life is an absolute necessity. Her deep understanding of his work is such that she even corrects mistakes he has made, while her passionate personality opens a door into his private world.
Marty (Alfred Molina) is a down-and-out jazz musician with colorful dreams of making it big, but right now he’s living on the edge and making small money by giving music lessons to people who don’t seem to want them. His sometimes girlfriend, Sheila (Maggie O’Neill), is a barmaid at the Rose of Sharon, a local pub owned by the hot-tempered Frank (Seymour Cassel). One day Sheila takes an old rocking chair out of the pub’s storage and gives it to Marty; he then discovers that the chair is haunted by two ghosts, a middle-aged woman named Lilly (Marianne Faithfull) and a precocious little girl named Ruthie (Rachel Bella). Ruthie seems to be from the turn of the century, but Lilly is contemporary. These easygoing souls appear to Marty and enliven his life with non-threatening pranks, but things turn serious when Marty discovers Lilly was Frank’s wife, who killed her in a fit of rage. With the help of the mortal, the ghosts plan revenge.