'The Sound of Music' is one of the most popular musicals ever made. The
message is how love can change everything. It is the musical version of the Trap family
saga. The film is based on a true story, but the Trapps thought the film was rather
soppy. It was a block buster long-running hit on Broadway with Mary Martin before
finally being made into a film musical with Julie Andrews. The children first appear in identical grey sailor suits with green trim. I'm not sure how common that combination was. I'm also not sure how common this was in Austria, it is likely that blue and white
suits were more common. Some boys did wear sailor suits in Austria and Germany into their early teens, especially before the NAZI era. The two boys in the film wear short pants and the girls skirts, both with white kneesocks and white shoes. They also wear play suits, and lederhosen, mostly in short pants and knee socks. The only
difference between the older an younger boy is that when they wear leder hosen, the older boy wears the knicker style. Often the boys and girls all wear similar outfits. In one scene, the younger boy wears a night gown. Costuming of the wedding scene, however, is very plain.
The Sound of Music is the musical version of the Trapp family saga. The film is based on a true story, but the Trapps thought the film was rather soppy. It was a block buster long-running hit on Broadway with Mary Martin before finally being made into a film musical with Julie Andrews.
The film is set in Austria, before and after the 1937 Anschluss, the NAZI take over of Austria. There is a substantial amount of information on HBC about both Austria and Germany during this period. HBC readers may want to review the information collected on related topics such as Austria and World War II. If the Captain had not taken the children out of Austria, they would have had to join the Hiler Youth. Other realted HBC web pages include lederhosen and Austrian sailor suits.
The film is set in 1936-37, encompasing the period before and after the 1937 Anschluss with Germany.
This is a movie filled with exuberance, memorable songs, and great beauty. The original score for Sound Of Music was composed by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein. Oscar Hammerstein worked as a lawyer before using a family connection to begin working in the theater. He wrote librettos and lyrics with such Jerome Kern and George Gershwin and then teamed up with Richard Rodgers in the early 1940s. The first musical number of the film was actually the last scene shot in late June 1964. Julie Andrews suffered through chill mountain air (even though it appears sunny and warm on-screen) as she repeatedly ran up and down the mountain. Also, the downdraft from the camera helicopter kept knocking her off of her feet. After Hammerstein's death in 1960, Rodgers wrote both music and lyrics. The 1965 screen adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Sound Of Music, which included two new songs written by Richard Rodgers alone, ended up as the most profitable movie
musical of all time. Some of the memorable songs are: "Edelweiss," "Climb Every Mountain," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," and "Do-Re-Mi" are some of the most memorable.
The stars were of course Julie Andrews as Maria and and Christopher Plumer as Cpt. Von Trapp. The children were relative unknowns. According to Hirsch's book, in casting the children, Wise had concerns beyond how the scenes were played and lines were delivered. He
wanted to see how the children handled themselves, how "real" they came across, and whether or not they radiated "screen magic." The child actors all are capable in playing their rather simplistic characters. There are two boys which wind up wearing quite a range of different costumes. Nicholas Hammond played Friedrich, the older boy.
One of the three children among the seven in The Sound Of Music with previous professional experience, Hammond had appeared on television, on Broadway, and in the movie, Lord of the Flies. Hammond went to audition for the role a few days after being in a skiing accident--and in he walked with his two front teeth missing and his arm in a sling. He didn't think he had a chance because he couldn't
sing, but despite all these handicaps, he landed the role. Hammond now lives in Australia, where he still makes his living as a stage actor. Duane Chase played Kurt, the younger boy. Chase began his acting career in commercials at the age of 11, a way of helping to fund his college career. At his second audition for The Sound of
Music, Wise walked up to him and invited him personally to join the cast in Salzburg. Duane lives in Washington State and today tests computer software for oil and mining companies.
The von Trapp family upon which the film is based is of course was an actualm family. The real saga begins in 1910, when distinguished naval commander Georg von Trapp met Agathe Whitehead at a ball. Not only was it love at first sight, it was an almost royal match. Captain von Trapp was as distinguished a war commander in Austria as Eisenhower was in America following World War II. And the von Trapp-Whitehead marriage had the same mythical aura as that of the Kennedy-Bouvier union. Both Georg and Agathe came from privileged families, and the von Trapps were
able to live comfortably off the interest from Whitehead's inheritance. According to Hirsch's book, the fairy tale started to take a turn when the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed after World War I. Now without a coast, Austria no longer required a navy, and the Captain lost his post. When Agathe died, von Trapp was inconsolable. After
the loss of their mother, the children had an endless parade of governesses, until Maria came and The Sound of Music saga began.
The film is set around the true story of the Von Trap family. It centers on a widowed Austrian naval officer and his large family. An Austrian navy may sound strange. One viewer asks, "How could the Von Trapp father be an Austrian navel officer when Austria is a landlocked country?" But of course the Austro-Hungarian Empire did have a navy with battleships in World War I. Thus there were retired Austrian naval officers with combat experience. As the officer opposes the NAZIs, he and his family are in great danger after the Anschluss. Maria, a novice nun, leaves the abbey to become a governess to the seven incorrigible von Trapp children. Their father is an unflappable military martinet. The Captain makes all of his children toe the line by calling them with individualized whistle sounds. He lectures Maria that, "The first rule of this household is discipline." Or as the housekeeper, Frau Schmidt (Norma Varden), explains it, "Von Trapp children don't play; they march."stick-in-the-mud, who insists that his children should march instead of play. The supposedly incorrigible children have run off a long list of governesses with the record being the last one who stayed only 2 hours. In due time, Maria wins the children's trust and the Captain's heart.
A reader has pointed out the many inaccuracies in the 'Sound of Music'. "Regarding your Von Trapp Family and 'Sound of Music' pages, I recently did a bit of research about the von Trapp family, and found some interesting differences between the real family and the family as depicted in the film.
(1) The father was not the martinet depicted in the play/movie but actually did a lot with his kids, including singing. This was one of the family's pet peeves with the play/movie "The Sound of Music."
(2) Although the children were approximately the ages depicted in "The Sound of Music" when the Captain and Maria Kutschera married (Nov 26, 1927), they were almost 11 years older when the family fled Austria (June 1938). And by the time of the flight, Captain von Trapp and Maria had had two more children together, so there were nine "children" who fled, not seven, with "children" in quotes because the oldest, Rupert, was 28 at the time, and the others correspondingly older.
(3) In real life the oldest child was a boy and the second oldest a girl; "The Sound of Music" -- presumably for dramatic reasons -- reversed that: the oldest is a girl, the second oldest a boy. I'm not sure what would have happened to the song "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" if the 16 year old had been a boy or if the sixteen year old girl had had a 17 or 18 year old big brother.
(4) When they fled, the went on tour and never came back. Crossing the border suitcases in hand was better drama, but not the way it actually happened. I have prepared a table summarized the ages in the film and those portrayed in the film."
The children first appear in identical grey sailor suits with green trim. I'm not sure how common that combination was. I'm also not sure how common this was in Austria, it is likely that blue and white suits were more common. Some boys did wear sailor suits in Austria and Germany into their early teens, especially before the NAZI era. One might think that a naval officer would be likely to dress his children in sailor suits, and indeed he did--although the one available images shows the boys in long pants sailor suits. How common this was I am not sure.
The two boys in the film wear short pants and the girls skirts, both with white kneesocks and white shoes. At first they do not have any play clothes, but Maria makes some out of curtains. They also wear lederhosen. One viewer, however, points out an inconsistency. "During the songs Do Re Mi and when you know the notes to sing, the shots change from place to place and time to time. Now, we know that the
children don't have any play clothes, just their uniforms, good clothes, and the ones made from curtains. So how come they are walking around (and singing) in what were in 1938 casual clothes? They are not supposed to have any." Also where did Maria get the nice clothes besides the one dress the poor did not want? A HBC reader
reports, "Remember the bolts of fabric the hausfrau brought to Maria?
Check out the patterns and colors--there is your answer."
The only difference between the costumes of the older and younger boy is that when they wear lederhosen, the older boy wears the knicker rather than the short pants style. Often the boys and girls all wear similar outfits. In one scene, the younger boy wears a night gown. Costuming of the wedding scene, however, is very plain.
The Sound of Music is extremely watchable, even by its harshest critics. It's not hard to see why this is America's favorite movie. One American HBC reader comments, "It ought to be made compulsory viewing every Christmas!" It is one of the classic family movies with music that most remember fondly. HBC especially likes "Edelveiss" as a symbol of Austrian resistance to the NAZIs. The film also provides a little realistic history as to the difficult choices faced by Austrians in the 1930s. Many Austrians, of course, took a very different route and became enthusiastic suppoters of the NAZIs. There is a debate today as to whether Austria was the first NAZI captive nation or a willing partner with the Germans.
Not everone of course appreciates Sound of Music. It is an undeniably saccharine film. The Von Trapps themselves even complained about that. A European reader comments, "By the way, when I saw The Sound of Music I could not believe that this lousy movie had been awarded an Oscar for best picture of the year. It is one of those typical Hollywood movies, on one hand sugary sweet, on the other
portraying the von Trapps as stereotypes of a German (in this case Austrian) family with a stern humorless father and disciplined, obeying children. I am still waiting for the day when Germans are being portrayed as normal people by Hollywood."
The Sound of Music is set before and after the 1037 Anchluss in which the German Army marched across the Austrian border and forcibly reunited Austria with the German Reich. A HBC reader points out that The Sound of Music "... which everyone has seen, and which no one questions, one would think that the Austrian people did not want to be part of
Germany. But the truth is that the Austrians desperately wanted to join Germany in 1918 and 1919, and only the veto of France stopped it." [Peaseley] After World War II, many Austrians climed that they were a victim of the NAZIs and another occupied country rather than a part of the Third Reich. There were Austrians like the Von Trapps who opposed the NAZIs and the Amschluss. Many historians, however, see the Austrians as eager participants in the Third Reich and NAZI Party.
The Sound of Music appeared on the Broadway stage years before the movie was made in 1965. Mary Martin played Maria. There was also a long-running production on London. The children in the stage play always wore white sailor suits. It is also an often done play by community and school theater groups.
The story of the Trapp family saga was first made in Germany, several years before. Actuall there were two films: "Die Trapp-Familie" (1956) and "Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika" (1958). These films were made some years before the U.S. film--the musical version
"The Sound of Music" was made. (The Broadway version
appeared several years ealier.) Michael Ande Michael played
Werner in the Trapp-films. (In "The Sound of Music" the boy's
names were different.)
Peaseley, Brad. E-mail message, October 9, 2002.
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