Besides acting as the birthplace for one of the most famous musicians and composers in history, many may recognize this backdrop from a more recent musical accomplishment. The beautiful, rolling hills and lush, green landscape of this town was employed as the setting for the Tony Award winning musical, and Academy Award winning movie-musical, The Sound of Music. After its initial cinematic release in 1965, The Sound of Music became the highest grossing film of all time, beating out Gone with the Wind, and held the title for five years post-release.
This iconic masterpiece follows the story of the von Trapp family as they struggle with the Nazi takeover of Austria in the late 1930’s. However, many do not realize that the lively and entertaining movie is based on true events, written about in the memoirs of Maria von Trapp, the inspiration for Julie Andrew’s Golden Globe winning performance. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, an autobiography written by Maria von Trapp, describes the true story of the musically-inclined family, from her original role as tutor for one of the von Trapp children, to the family’s escape to America upon the Nazi annexation of Austria.
In 1926, Maria, then studying to be a nun, was brought into the von Trapp household to tutor one of the children of the family, who was recovering from scarlet fever. A year later, she agreed to marry Georg von Trapp, patriarch of the family, because of her deep love for his children. It was not until years later that her love for Georg would grow from that of friendship, to a consuming, romantic love. Following the worldwide depression in the early 1930’s, the von Trapp family experienced a considerable loss of wealth and in response to this, the von Trapp Family Singers were born. The singing family toured Austria and throughout Europe, starting with their success at the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936.