Look, it’s sort of me and Julie! Together. In Salzburg!

‘Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens’. Go ahead, sing along as you make Salzburg one of YOUR favorite things.  As every fan of the venerable Rodgers-Hammerstein musical knows, the hills come alive with the Sound of Music in lovely Salzburg. 


Over a century ago, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer first sang, danced and whistled onto the screen – and into our hearts – as the real-life Maria and Captain von Trapp. It was movie magic in 1965 – and remains one of the most beloved, highest grossing films of all time, cherished by audiences of all generations and nationalities.

Now, of course, we all know the classic story. The widowed Captain Georg von Trapp is in need of a governess for his seven children. A decorated and wealthy former sea captain, he manages his household like one of his ships, calling for his children with whistles and forbidding music. Enter music-loving nun-in-the-making Maria. She gives the children playclothes fashioned out of old drapes and teaches them how to sing. Just as Maria and the Captain fall in love and marry, Austria signs the Anschluss with the Germans and the Nazis come calling.  The family makes a daring escape, walking into the Swiss Alps. 


That’s the movie. And the plot of the 1959 staged Broadway musical. But it’s not quite the truth. The children were given different names and ages in the film. Maria and the Captain wed in 1927: a full eleven years before the Anschluss as depicted in the film. At the time of their 1938 departure, the von Trapp Family Singers were already well-known. Hitler requested they sing at a party, but they declined. The family escaped instead by walking a brief distance to the nearby train station, where they claimed to be going on a weeklong family holiday in Italy. (Because, uh, apparently that’s what normal people did int he days leading up to WWII?)

In any case, after the escape the family continued their journey onward and off into the American Sunset, where they become a worldwide smash. To this day, several von Trapp grandchildren perform throughout the world. Fans flock to their concerts by the legions for a slice of this movie magic.

But the truly, truly faithful (like me!) make the ultimate pilgrimage to Salzburg to reenact favorite scenes from the film. While most of the interiors were shot in Hollywood sound stages, director Robert Wise chose to pay homage to the von Trapp’s beloved homeland by shooting the exteriors on location. Grand streets, Alpine views, palatial gardens and the “Do-Re-Mi” steps: these are part of what make the Sound of Music really sing and can make the hills–and the music–come alive for you too!

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