Chances are fairly high for those of you over 35, that you've not only heard of The Sound of Music but grew up watching it with your family. While the birthplace of all it was in and around Salzburg Austria, oddly enough Austrians and Germans didn't grow up watching it nor did it create such a groundswell effect locally like it did in other countries.
In the late Fall, I went to Austria to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music, and together with 50 or so other press from 12 different countries, we relived the well known movie which turned into a musical, which ultimately turned into a bit of an institution.
Growing up, I watched The Sound of Music every year, often with my grandparents. As a little girl, who can't relate to the "You are Sixteen" scene? Here, Liesl and Rolf sing this "coming of age" song in the romantic Gazebo setting as she looks to him for guidance at the start of womanhood. There's an inherent and natural innocence that is so beautifully portrayed in the scene and so many of us can resonate with it regardless of where we hail.
Below is a backdrop that was used from the original movie -- the historical Schloss Leopoldskron and the façade facing the lake represented the von Trapp residence.
It was in this majestic and historical building where they held the official press conference celebrating 50 years. Speakers included four actors who played the von Trapp children -- Debbie Turner as Marta, Duane Chase who played Kurt, Heather Menzies who played Louisa, Nicholas Hammond who played Friedrich, Johannes von Trapp, the youngest son of the von Trapp family in real life who lives in Vermont today, Governor Wilfried Haslauer, Mayor Heinz Schaden, the head of Salzburg Tourism, and Bert Brugger. They held court upstairs in the Schloss Leopoldskron Palace's library, which dates back to 1736 and its ever so encompassing architectural details only added to the historical impact the movie has had on the world.
Inside, I couldn't help but to be drawn in by Kleber's stucco work on the ceilings which has been described as the best example of rococo stucco the land can offer.
From Left to Right: Debbie Turner (Marta), Duane Chase (Kurt), and Heather Menzies (Louisa).
Johannes von Trapp, now 76, was incredibly charming as he sat at the helm in an Austrian uniform, recounting his memories and sharing tales of his own life, noting what was similar to the movie and what differed. For example, his family didn't really climb over the hills and trek across the border, but took a train and nor did Maria and the Colonel marry at St. Stephen's Cathedral in nearby Mondsee, which was where the famous church scene was shot towards the end of the film.
While not a household name in the states, Uwe Kroger (below) is a known Austrian performer and plays Captain von Trapp in the most recent musical performance of The Sound of Music which was playing in Salzburg this past fall.
On-Stage Performance Brings Me Back in Time
This intoxicating gala brought me back in time, reliving all of those sweet Sound of Music moments I had as a child. Producer Carl Philip von Maldeghem and directors Andreas Gergen and Peter Ewaldt were behind the celebratory on-stage event, as was the talented Mozarteum Orchestra.
The Mozarteum Orchestra provided the music, while soloists and the choir of the Landestheater stood alongside the original actors from the 1965 film.
Together with Uwe Kroger, German-Serban singer Milica Jovanovic played Maria von Trapp which she has been doing since the 2012/2013 season.
At the end of the performance, original actors joined the stage, including Johannes von Trapp and his family (below). And, together, we sang. If I were to say participating and watching this extravaganza was moving, it would be a grave understatement.
At the end, hundreds of children were brought up on the stage and together, the entire hall sang The Hills Are Alive.....and no doubt, there were tears to be seen in the audience.
There are several tours you can do in Salzburg of The Sound of Music, including visiting the original film locations which we did. Most common film locations include the beautiful Mirabell Palace and Gardens, where Maria and the children dance and sing Do-Re-Mi, the Observation Terrace on the Monchsbert, where they sing a verse of Do-Re-Mi, Residenz Square where Maria sings "I have confidence in me," Summer Riding School (Festival Hall), where Captain von Trapp sings Edelweiss before fleeing to America and St. Peter's Cemetery where the family hides behind the tombstones.
Then there was also the infamous Leopoldskron Palace which was used as the von Trapp villa as noted above, Frohnburg Palace, which is used as the garden gate, courtyard and facade of their villa, Untersberg, which is the opening and fleeing scene, Hellbrunn, which houses the original gazebo, Anif Palace, which can be seen in the opening scene, Hohenwerfen Castle, which is the backdrop for Do-Re-Mi, Mondsee Church, where Maria runs to the convent and marries the captain, and Fuschl -- St. Gilgen -- St. Wolfgang, which are aerial shots you see at the beginning of the move.
We hit all the sites, including those out of town, such as the charming town of Mondsee, a 30 or so minute drive from Salzburg. Below is St. Stephen's Cathedral where the wedding scene of Captain and Maria took place in the movie as referenced above.
New Sound of Music Trail in Werfen
We were fortunate enough to visit the new Sound of Music Trail before it officially opened - it's a fairly new offering in Salzburg as it only opened to the public in late October 2015. Below, you see the stunning shooting location where the picnic scene with Julie Andrews was filmed teaching the children to sing. This area on the outskirts of Werfen is known as the Gschwandtanger. The Sound of Music Trail is 1.4 kilometers long, with 12 information stations along the way, many of which are interactive.
What's astonishing about these locations are not just the outstanding views (we were lucky to have a clear day when we reached the top), but the fact that it has been viewed via this famous movie by over one billion people from around the world. Here, you also have an opportunity to discover the beauty of Salzburgerland's mountains and alpine pastures. There were children on-site also, which made for incredible photos against such a picturesque backdrop.
All photo credits: Renee Blodgett