Viennese Music Professor Josef Mashkan takes on a new student, the brash young American Stephen Hoffman. A piano prodigy whose concert career is suffering from severe burnout, Stephen thinks he will be addressing his performance problems with Professor Schiller and is dismayed to learn he must first study singing with Mashkan. His course of study is to be Schumann's magnificent Dichterliebe, 16 songs based on Heinrich Heine's poems about love and loss. Mashkan's denigration of Jewish culture further increases the tensions between the two men and they struggle to find common ground. As each man is forced to reveal his deepest secrets, a tale of loss and redemption unfolds, and the two generations begin to understand where life and fate have led them.