The most prominent family in media history: „The Sound of Music“
Maria’s book, „The Story of the Trapp Family Singers“, set the basis to the fame which was now to come. Maria von Trapp did not grant permission to the first offers from Hollywood for filming, and accorded Wolfgang Reinhardt, son of Max Reinhardt, the film rights. Finally, the German Gloria Film took up the offer. In 1956, under the direction of Wolfgang Liebeneiner, the company filmed the story on location in Salzburg: “The Trapp Family“. Scriptwriter Georg Hurdalek brought in a number of ideas which were later taken up by Robert Wise in the Hollywood version. The German film was a tremendous success and was even shown in America and South America. Musical producer Richard Halliday, husband of the Singer Mary Martin, got interested in the story. Based on compositions of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, the most successful musical authors of all times, Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers took up the work. On November 16, 1959, „The Sound of Music“ opened on Broadway, and broke all records. After four years, the show went on tour for another three years.
It was obvious that a film would be even more successful. 20Th Century Fox bought the film rights from Rodgers & Hammerstein. Oscar winner Julie Andrews was engaged for the lead role. Director Robert Wise let the large format cameras roll in Salzburg from April to June 1964. For many moviegoers, it was a odd experience to find out on tour in Salzburg that the „von Trapp Villa“ was assembled on the cutting desk, resembling between takes from Schloss Frohnburg (front shot), Schloss Leopoldskron (rear shot), and Hollywood sets, some thousand miles away. The original villa was occupied by the Missionaries and could not be used for filming.
The film was a big hit in America. Within two years, it was setting itself high on the list of all-time greats, even higher than “Gone with the Wind”, which needed 27 years to achieve similar audience levels. At the Oscar ceremony, Wise achieved five trophies. For 15 years, the film was the most successful flick of all times.
Even today, “The Sound of Music” is the most successful filming of a Musical and ranking among the top five productions in history. “If there is one universal thing in this world, its family”, Robert Wise was quoted in an attempt to find the right words for the enormous success. But that’s only one explanation: the fantastic music arrangements, the characters, the high stakes of morale in the family, which is expressed in the repulsion of the Hitler regime, America as the “blessed land” to start a world career – but maybe, it is only the wonderful, real story of a family from Salzburg that stirs our hearts so much, and that started in the Villa Trapp.