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The "Sound of Music," and the von Trapp Family.

Updated on December 31, 2012

Julie Andrews defies the years.

Still lovely in her 70's.  Julie Andrews, one of my all time favorite stars.
Still lovely in her 70's. Julie Andrews, one of my all time favorite stars.

Still a delight after 47 years

The “Sound of Music” and the von Trapp Family.

Every Christmas, the main cable channels in Britain - BBC 1 and 2, Itv 1, Channel 4 and 5, dig through their archives cramming as much free archived rubbish into our lives as they can find. We get no sport, but every Scrooge film ever made - and there are a lot.

All the old British movies with a cast of apparently amoral but inept comic actors, most of whom are homosexual or appear so. There is no original programming and every offering has an “R” for repeat after it.

Luckily, swanning through this depressing miasma of the film maker’s worst attempts at their art, we come upon a few old chestnuts that are watchable - and certainly listenable - no matter how many times we are privy to the great locations and superb scores.

Such is the “Sound of Music,” the largest grossing celluloid musical ever and recipient of 5 academy awards.

You all know the movie by now: the glorious countryside of Saltsburg, Bavaria, and the foothills of the Alps; the storyline which tells of the early life and times of the von Trapp family and the wonderful music and lyrics by Rodgers and Hammerstein, entrancingly interpreted by the evergreen Julie Andrews, the actors playing the Trapp kids, and some clever dubbing from other professional nightingales.

The film was a somewhat of an embarrassment to Austria which had endeavored to show the Anschluss (Nazi takeover of the country) as a violent confrontation - the reality was they all but sauntered in and were soon made welcome by the large percentage of Austrians. More justifiably, they pointed out that the movie’s story line was inaccurate in all but the bare bones - the family did exist, there was a Maria and a Captain Georg von Trapp who married in 1927, and the kids were taught to sing. But the Captain - father Trapp and the governess - Maria, took on one another’s personalities in the movie…in real life, he was easy going and gentle, Maria the disciplinarian; most of the musical training was provided by a professional friend. Moreover, the family had nowhere near the opulent life that was shown in the movie.

Of course, the Sound of Music was made into a Holly wood film in 1965, well after the rise and descent into obscurity of the Von Trapp Singers.

They had, indeed, escaped into Switzerland (by train into Italy, not happily yodeling as they strolled across the Alps). From there, they had beat-feet to Ellis Island, entering the US on a six-month entertainment visa, which they parlayed rather cleverly - Maria was nothing if not determined - into a lifetime of residency.

They did carry on touring the US as singers with sort of gospel/Euro-folk overtones and were soon booked out for years in advance.

The money began to roll in as post-war Americans looked around to be entertained and the enterprising governess/husband bought a lovely property in Stowe, Vermont, that the family said reminded them of Austria. (Still there in von Trapp hands today I believe).

Some time in the late 1950’s, the family all but abandoned their musical career and became absorbed into the great American post-war dream in farming and other pursuits. They were still held together as a dynasty by the indomitable Maria until her death at 82 in 1987. (Capt. Georg passed on in 1947), and some of the children have found it difficult to form lasting relationships. However, there are a handful of grandchildren and close relatives alive and well able to tell their remarkable story to members of the media who still visit, as the Sound of Music still keeps a world’s interest alive.

There has been a German Sound of Music made which claims to be a more accurate representation of the real von Trapp’s and their adventures, plus many stage plays (since the book, then the original which began things in the late 1950’s).

I noted that the surviving family members all seem very well educated and have no aminus towards the rather farcical Hollywood account of their lives. Indeed, the movie kept the von Trapp’s from sliding into obscurity by the 1960’s and they are - or should be - most beholden to angel-voiced Julie Andrews (love that woman) and even po-faced, wooden, Christopher Plummer who seemed little enamored with his part.

I haven’t attempted to really address the life of the von Trapp’s in this hub, but just give the few who might be unfamiliar with the background an idea of whom they were.

Please forgive any inaccuracies in this account.

Note. Austria finally broke down and arranged their own stage musical of the Trapp's which was well received.


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    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hiya Strictly...You bin around, girl!


    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Avian novice. This must be one of the best known movies ever made all over the world.


    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Tilly: Julie Andrews is every man's dream - her beauty is unsurpassed. The movie does change much of the facts, but the real story is almost as amazing.


    • stricktlydating profile image

      StricktlyDating 5 years ago from Australia

      One of my all time favourite movies! I even had the pleasure of visiting a few places used in some scenes in this movie when I visited Austria!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I sure watched this movie more than once. You gave a wonderful account and some good historical info. I never knew that other countries did the same thing.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Great job Bob! You certainly did your homework...of course this film has to be one of, if not the, most beloved films of all time....from Julie Andrews to the 'littlest Von Trapp".

      Very interesting history of the family. I might add, when my son was in Austria he saw the still performing VonTrapps....I'm not sure which generation they would be. This was an attention grabbing read.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Gemma. I think Plummer made it obvious he was uncomfortable with the roll, having to be dubbed and all. Well...the facts of the Trapps were pretty well muddled in the movie but a great flick all the same.

      Thanks for dropping by


    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico


      I like the musical version of Scrooge with "Frasier" in the starring roll Kelsey Gramar. I ove him in anything but he is brilliant in Scrooge.


    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      My favorite “A Christmas Carol” version is the ’51 film where Scrooge is played by the late, great, Alastair Sim. Unfortunately it rarely airs any more.

      “The Sound of Music,” is another of my favorite films. This hub is an excellent recount of the real facts surrounding the von Trapp family, Bob. I was always curious if what Christopher Plummer reportedly said about how he hated doing the film is actually true. I thought he was wonderful.

      Happy New Year, Bob, to you and yours. :-)

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bob. Enjoyed this look at the story of the von Trapp family. Was actually just watching the Sound of Music last week. It's on TV here every year at Christmas also. Like you, I have always loved Julie Andrews, a first class lady.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Yes...enjoyed that movie, too, superb acting. Julie was - is - so dynamically gorgeous and could really sing; all her movies were great hits...

      Thanks for dropping by...where's the "concrete jungle to the desert?" Sounds like LA to Arizona.


    • Julie2 profile image

      Julie2 5 years ago from New York City

      She is absolutely amazing! I love her. My all time favorite movie of hers is and will always be, "Victor, Victoria"


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