The Sound of Music is a Broadway musical and movie based on the book The Von Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp. It contains many hit songs, including "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things", "Climb Every Mountain", "Do-Re-Mi", and "The Lonely Goatherd", as well as the title song.
| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
In Salzburg, Austria, Maria, a woman studying to be a nun, is sent from her convent to be the governess of the seven children of a widowed naval commander, Captain Georg Ritter von Trapp. The children, initially hostile and mischievous, come to like her, and the woman finds herself falling in love with the captain. He was soon to be married to a baroness but he marries Maria instead. Maria teaches the children singing. Meanwhile, the Nazis take power in Austria as part of the Anschluss, and want Captain von Trapp back in service. However, during a singing performance in a theatre, although they are guarded, the whole family manages to flee and walk over the mountains to Switzerland.
It should be noted that some details of the von Trapp story were altered for the play and the film. The real Maria was sent to be nurse to one of the children, not governess to all of them. The Captain's eldest child was a boy, not a girl, and the names of the children were changed (at least partly to avoid confusion, as the Captain's eldest daughter was also called Maria). The von Trapps spent some years in Austria after Maria and the Captain had married (in 1927) – they did not have to flee right away – and when they did they fled to Italy, not Switzerland, via train and not foot.
Two German/Austrian films, Die Trapp-Familie (The Trapp Family, 1956) and a sequel, Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika (1958), were written by Herbert Reinecker and directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner. Ruth Leuwerik played Maria, Hans Holt was von Trapp.
1959 Broadway musical Edit
The Sound of Music, with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959, and starred Mary Martin as Maria and Theodore Bikel as Captain von Trapp.
1965 film Edit
The film, which was released in 1965, was named Best Picture of the Year. Robert Wise won an Academy Award for Directing for the film, which stars Julie Andrews as Maria and Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp. Hammerstein died before the film was made, and two of the numbers added to the score were written solely by Rodgers: "I Have Confidence" and "Something Good".
1981 London Revival Edit
In 1981, at producer Ross Taylor's urging, Petula Clark signed to star in a revival of the show at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London's West End. Despite her misgivings that at age 51 she was too old to play the role convincingly, Clark opened to unanimous rave reviews (and the largest advance sale in the history of British theatre at that time). Maria von Trapp herself, present at the opening night performance, described her as "the best" Maria ever. Due to an unprecedented demand for tickets, Clark extended her initial six-month contract to thirteen months. Playing to 101% of seating capacity, the show set the highest attendance figure for a single week (October 26–31, 1981) of any British musical production in history, as chronicled by The Guinness Book of Theatre. This was the first stage production to incorporate the two additional songs that Rodgers had composed for the film version. The cast recording of this production was the first to be recorded digitally, but the recording has never been released on compact disc.
The Australian Production Edit
The Australian production of The Sound of Music opened in the Lyric Theatre in Sydney, with the star of the popular Australian drama Blue Heelers, Lisa McCune, playing the role of Maria von Trapp, TV personality Bert Newton as Max and John Waters as Captain von Trapp.
2005 Vienna productionEdit
In February 2005, the musical premiered at the Volksoper in Vienna. This was the first ever production in Austria.
The musical has created a few misconceptions about Austria. Many people believe "Edelweiss" to be the national anthem—in fact, this song is nearly unknown in Austria. In fact, the musical itself is virtually unknown in the country, except in backpacker's hostels in Salzburg, where it is screened daily on DVD. The Ländler dance that Maria and the Captain shared was not performed the traditional way it is done in Austria.
In some publicity shots for the film, a noteworthy error can be seen in a market scene immediately preceding the "Do-Re-Mi" number: an orange crate is marked 'Made in Israel'; however, Israel did not exist in the 1930s. This error cannot be seen in the film itself.
Another error, noted by astute observers who know the geography, is that in the scene where the family is hiking up the mountain presumably toward safe ground, they are actually walking toward Austria.
"I Have Confidence" is a song that Rodgers wrote as a "bridge", needed in the movie to get Maria from the convent to the Von Trapp manor (as he explained). During that segment, at one point Julie Andrews passes under an archway. As pointed out in one of the DVD's extras, the real Maria, one of her daughters, and one of her daughters (Maria's granddaughter) can be seen starting to cross the road at that point. The von Trapps arrived on set that day and director Wise offered them this walk-on role. It has also been reported that Andrews tripped at one point during the filming, a moment the editors left in because it seemed to fit the character.
The order of several of the songs is markedly different between the stage play and the film, thanks to the screenwriting of Ernest Lehman (Sabrina, West Side Story). One example is that in the play, "My Favorite Things" is sung at the convent. A couple of the songs were altered. "How Can Love Survive?" (which did not really fit the flow of the movie very well) was reduced to an instrumental, one of several waltz numbers played at the party occurring just before intermission. The title song's four-line prelude ("My day in the hills has come to an end, I know..."), sung by Mary Martin in the stage play (available on CD), is reduced to an instrumental hint during the overture and dramatic zoom-in shot to Julie Andrews on the mountaintop at the start of the movie.
Despite the enormous popularity of the movie, which at the time became the second-largest grossing picture of all time (behind Gone with the Wind), and has continued through the present day, noted film critic Pauline Kael blasted the film in a review in which she called the movie "The Sound Of Mucus." This review allegedly led to Kael's being fired from her position as a film critic.
The film's high production values still stand out 40 years later. In a commentary that was included with an expanded edition of the soundtrack CD, the late Richard Rogers had said, "As you start to watch this movie, you can tell right away that it did not come from a sausage factory!"
In 2001 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
According to boxofficemojo, the film ranks third in both all-time number of tickets sold (142,415,400) and in gross adjusted for inflation ($911,458,400) in North America (behind Gone with the Wind and Star Wars). Combined with its success around the world in sales of tickets, videocassettes, laserdiscs, DVDs and its frequent airings on television, it is called "the most widely seen movie produced by a Hollywood studio" by Amazon.uk.
The seven von Trapp children are five girls and two boys: Liesl (16 years old "going on 17"), Friedrich (14), Louisa (13), Kurt (11), Brigitta (10), Marta (6, although by the end of the movie she is 7, made clear by her line at the start, "I'm turning 7 on Tuesday"), Gretl (5).
Jazz musician John Coltrane adopted the tune "My Favorite Things" as his signature tune. His is a heavily modified version, played on the soprano saxophone, in which the initial theme ("Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...") is repeated again and again, separated by long soloing vamps.
The Australian comedy show Full Frontal also had a send-up of the song "My Favourite Things", with the segment, "Australian National Nightly Network News" by John Walker as Ian Goodings and Kitty Flannigan as Narelle Parkinsim saying their improvised news headline. At the 76th Annual Academy Awards in 2004, comedian Billy Crystal (the show's host) sang an altered version of "My Favourite Things" to summarise Best Picture-winner The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. One excerpt, describing the appearance of Gollum and hobbits Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee travelling to Gondor, also referred to the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl earlier that year:
- Frodo and Sam on a mystical planet
- Gollum pops out like the right boob of Janet.
- The White Horse Inn, another musical play that offers a somewhat distorted picture of Austria's past and present.
Further reading Edit
- Hirsch, Julia Antopol (1994) McGraw-Hill; The Sound of Music ISBN 0809238373. Covers the story from the birth of the real Maria von Trapp through the making and successes of the Broadway and film musicals.
- Books by Maria von Trapp:
- (1949) Lippincott; The Story of the Trapp Family Singers ISBN 0060005777. The autobiography that started it all.
- (1955) Pantheon; Around the Year With the Trapp Family
- (1959) Lippincott; A Family on Wheels: Further Adventures of the Trapp Family Singers
- (1972) Creation House; Maria. Tells the entire story of Maria's life, up to 1972, and thus includes her thoughts on the musical.
- (2000) New Leaf Press; Let Me Tell You About My Savior: Yesterday, Today & Forever/When the King Was Carpenter. combined reprint of (1975) New Leaf Press; Yesterday, Today & Forever, and (1976) Word Publishing; When the King was Carpenter.
- Theo Hobson, The Guardian, September 7, 2005, "Hegel with songs: The Sound of Music is a seriously religious film, its plot a fairytale version of modern Christian history"
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