"Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, 'til you find your dream." -Mother Arress from the Sound of Music

The hills are alive with the sound of music! A true classic, The Sound of Music has been watched on the silver screen, on television during Christmas time, or on the stage for decades.

There is no mistaking the fact that the Von Trapp family have had a special place in each of our lives. Also, it is almost impossible not to make it a dream destination

When selecting safe and wholesome entertainment for your children, parents are wise to show them the magnificence of the Sound of Music on stage or on film.

Therefore, without further delay, we will consider some intriguing facts and essential information about one of the world's most celebrated musicals, The Sound of Music. 

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Who Originally Developed the Sound of Music?

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The hills and beauty of Austria greatly influenced The Sound of Music. (Source: pixabay)

Based on the 1956 German film Die Trapp Familie, and Maria Von Trapp's autobiography about her life, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, The Sound of Music musical was developed in 1959 by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

Who are Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein? 

Rodgers and Hammerstein are some of the most iconic theatre producers, lyricists, and musicians of the 20th century. They are responsible for initiating the "Golden Age of Theatre" in the 1940s and 1950s. Some of their Broadway productions include Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and, of course, The Sound of Music! 

Rodgers and Hammerstein's writing partnership has been called the most successful of the 20th century since their film and theatre productions earned 34 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes, and two Grammys. 

After the West German film, Die Trapp Familie, was seen by Broadway theatre director Vincent J. Donehue in 1956, he thought the project would be perfect for Broadway starring his actress friend Mary Martin. Donehue proposed the idea to producers Leland Hayward and Richard Halliday, and they willfully agreed to take the project to the stage and have Mary Martin star.

The original idea of The Sound of Music was to make it a stage play without any musical numbers and written by Lindsay and Crouse. Nevertheless, the producers' plans began to shift, and they decided to feature an original song or two written by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

After some careful consideration and deliberation, it was agreed that The Sound of Music would not be a stage play but rather a musical with all new original songs loosely based on the Von Trapp family's life. 

After writing, producing, directing, and choreography were practised and established, an eight performance tryout began at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven in October 1959. After the rehearsals proved to be successful, The Sound of Music opened on November 15, 1959, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

A roaring success on Broadway The Sound of Music won five Tony Awards including Best Musical in 1959. 

The original Broadway production closed at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on June 15, 1963, after 1,443 performances. 

It is essential to state that the original Broadway cast included Mary Martin as Maria, Theodore Bikel as Captain Von Trapp, Patricia Neway as Mother Abbess, and Kurt Kasznar as MaxDetweiler.

Also, it is worthy of mentioning that since The Sound of Music was so successful on Broadway, it opened in 1961 on London's West End. Yet that is not all; the musical was revived in London in 1981 and 2006, in New York on Broadway in 1998 and in many other prominent theatres around the world.

The Sound of Music also became a feature film in 1965 starring the wonderful Julie Andrews and dashing Christopher Plummer.

Although one of the most acclaimed musicals of all time, Oscar Hammerstein II never got to see the complete success of his work since he died nine months after the Broadway premiere in 1960 due to stomach cancer. The Sound of Music was Rodgers and Hammerstein's last musical written together; but, oh what a brilliant career they had!

Also, starring Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins is another classic musical.

What is the Sound of Music's Story About?

While many individuals may have heard the magical score or inspired songs, some do not quite understand the premise or plot of The Sound of Music. 

Without further delay, the following description is a straightforward explanation of one of the most genuinely fun-loving stories of all time:

Based in Salzburg, Austria in the last golden years of the 1930s before WWII. Maria Rainer is a postulant at Nonnberg Abbey. She is very free-spirited and has a love for singing and dancing. She is viewed as a nuisance by many of the more experienced nuns who feel that they should mention their concerns about Maria not being an asset to the Abbey to Reverend Mother Abbess. 

Mother Abbess sees potential in Maria to be a successful nun one day; however, she suggests that she takes time to spend in the outside world to see if she is well suited for the monastic life. The Reverend Mother Abbess strongly suggests that she become a governess to the seven children of Captain Georg von Trapp who is a widow. 

The next day she arrives at the von Trapp residence to meet the captain and the children. She develops a close relationship with the children although they try to trick her at the beginning. She criticises the captain many times for being too rough and strict with his offspring.

After Captain von Trapp leaves for Austria for a month, Maria is left to tend to the children and her bond is strengthened with them. Georg von Trapp returns with his dear friend Max and Baroness Elsa Schrader who is interested in a relationship with the Captain. Baroness Schrader is suspicious of Maria until she explains that she will return to the Abbey in September. 

Upon returning to the Abbey, Maria discovers she has romantic feelings for the Captain. Mother Abbess tries to help Maria comprehend her feelings. Meanwhile, upon realising that the children have talent Max tries to prepare them to perform on stage for the Kaltzberg Festival. 

The children and the Captain dearly miss Maria so she returns to the residence and the Captain confesses his love for Maria. After they return to Austria from their honeymoon, Austria is being overtaken by the Nazi regime and the Captain's loyalty is tested. The von Trapp family performs at the festival and then escape to Switzerland by way of the Austrian hills. 

One of the most romantic, clean, and enjoyable stories of all time, The Sound of Music is appropriate for all members of the family, including children!

Consider watching The Wizard of Oz, Frozen the Musical, Matilda, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when thinking about family-friendly entertainment.

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Who are the Primary Characters?

Photo of Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews lit up the screen as Maria Rainer (von Trapp) as did Mary Martin on Broadway. (Source: pixabay)

Without any main characters, there is no story in a novel, in a film, or in a stage play. Therefore, the best writers and story developers create characters that are based out of their imagination or another non-fictional person.

Who are the primary characters of The Sound of Music? 

The following are the most recognisable and essential personages in The Sound of Music musical and feature film:

  • Maria Rainer (von Trapp): based on the non-fictional person known as Maria Augusta Kutschera, Maria Rainer is a postulant at Nonnberg Abbey whose personality does not fit that of a nun since young, free-spirited, warm, gentle, kind, and has a lot of determination. On Broadway, she was initially portrayed by Mary Martin and on the screen by Julie Andrews.
  • Captain Georg von Trapp: based on the non-fictional personage bearing the same name, Captain von Trapp is portrayed in the musical between the ages of 35-45 and is a retired Austrian naval captain who is polished yet firm. The manner in which he runs his home is very militant to suppress the sadness he feels of losing his wife. Nevertheless, underneath the surface, he is kind, warm, and understanding.
  • Max Detweiler: one of Captain von Trapp's oldest friends, Max Detweiler, is a very charming and sophisticated man who is a music agent and producer. He is very loyal to the von Trapp's and enjoys the more beautiful things in life.
  • The Mother Abbess: the head of Nonnberg Abbey, Mother Abbess is very patient, motherly, and understanding yet reliable and authoritative at the same time. She is tough on Maria because she sees her potential and Maria confides in her when she fails to understand certain things.
  • Baroness Elsa Schrader: wealthy, sophisticated, and observant, the Baroness is between the ages of 35 and 40 and is the would-be fiance of Captain von Trapp. She loves elegance and class and is more mature in her demeanour than Maria.

It is indispensable to mention the von Trapp children as some of the main characters. Their contribution to The Sound of Music musical on Broadway and feature film is noticeable and necessary for the story's development. The von Trapp children names are Liesl von Trapp, age 16, Friedrich von Trapp, age 14, Louisa von Trapp, age 13, Kurt von Trapp, age 11, Brigitta von Trapp, age 10, Marta von Trapp, age 7, and Gretl von Trapp, age 5.

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Praise, Awards, and Reviews for the Sound of Music

How many Oscars has The Sound of Music won?
The Sound of Music feature film won 5 Oscars at the 1966 ceremony. (Source: pixabay)

"These are a few of my favourite things." -Maria von Trapp

The Sound of Music has received so much recognition since its conception in 1959 of the Broadway stage from so many audience members from all over the world. Upon release, the reviews of The Sound of Music musical were favourable amongst theatre critics. Many praised its gentle charm, melodies, lyrics, and genuine excitement.

Particular praise was reserved for Rodgers and Hammerstein's music & lyrics and the performances; in particular Mary Martin and Patricia Neway. 

Winning five Tony Awards at the 1960's ceremony, including Best Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, and Best Featured Actress in a Musical, The Sound of Music was the most successful stage play/musical of that year.

Also, it is essential to state, that since The Sound of Music has been praised by so many audiences in London and New York, it has opened to widespread acclaim in six of the seven continents in cities such as Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Melbourne, San Juan, Rio de Janeiro, and Toronto.

What about the 1965 feature film version?

It is worth stating that after The Sound of Music finished on Broadway in 1963, producers and developers thought the next step would be a feature film shot on location in Austria. After the cast, director, and crew members were selected The Sound of Music began filming in 1964 and opened to worldwide success in 1965 grossing more than 286 million USD to become the highest-grossing film of all time and earning five Oscars along its way including Best Picture and Best Director.

Both beloved in their unique ways, The Sound of Music stage production and film have stood the test of time and worthily merit their titles of being one of pop culture's most impressive works.

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