50 years of The Sound of Music

The singing of children, the impending arrival of the Nazis and the twirling Alpine dance of Julie Andrews are all lasting memories of a film that this year turns 50 years old. The Sound of Music, for all its iconic moments, is essentially a tribute to the country where it is set.

Nowadays, the hills of Salzburg, Austria are still alive. In the film, the lives of the von Trapp family were intertwined with the city and sites of Salzburg.

An Alpine Masterpiece

The 1965 film is about the moving life of the novice, Maria von Trapp and her singing family. With Andrews in the leading role, the film became an international box office success. The songs from The Sound of Music are still known throughout the world.

During the filming, stars Andrews and Christopher Plummer met for the first time. The meeting led to a life-long friendship that went on to greatly influence the future. Many years later, Andrews’s husband, the late Blake Edwards, went on to direct Plummer in The Return of the Pink Panther in 1975. Plummer and Edwards remained friends – along with their wives – until the director’s death, in 2010.

In 2001, Andrews and Plummer co-starred in a live television production of On Golden Pond, followed in 2002 with a tour of the U.S. and Canada in a stage extravaganza called A Royal Christmas. The acting duo marked their performances with the utmost comfort that knowing each other for decades affords.


“I just think it was so joy-filled and filled with love, rattling good adventure, scenery, children, nuns,” Andrews told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. “It made for a nice feeling in the pit of your stomach when you came out of the theatre."

Helping to Define Andrews and Austria

A film and stage icon, Andrews had already filmed two of her most iconic roles before they were released. She was cast as Maria when the director Robert Wise saw the unreleased footage from Mary Poppins. The classic Disney film was released in 1964, followed by The Sound of Music in 1965.

“Andrews is a magnificent presence,” says Kristen Lopez from Journeys in Classic Film. “When I briefly interviewed her during the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival, she explained that the power of the movie still stands truer today than when it was made. I'd say that about the film, as well as her bright-eyed Maria, a symbol of hope and beauty in a landscape as magnificent as she is."

From this point, Andrews went to be one of film’s most beloved actresses.

The other clear star of the film is the setting. For many, Lopez says, the Austrian locations in the film are the closest they'll ever come to seeing the Alps. Wise's camera captures their majesty, their beauty and the utter simplicity, she said.

“This is a majestic world nearly free from human influence,” Lopez remarks. “An escape you don't want to see tarnished. In a sense, the advent of the Nazis puts this landscape in as much peril as the Von Trapps themselves."

Retrace your memories of the film

In Salzburg, there are several opportunities to see various location where the film was made. According to tourist officials in the city, Salzburg celebrates several original film locations:

  • St. Gilgen / Wolfgangsee (see picture above) from the opening scene in the film

  • Mirabell Gardens and Pegasus Fountain from the dancing scene with Maria and the children

  • Leopoldskron Palace, the place where the family lived in the film

  • Hellbrunn Palace from several song scenes

  • Nonnberg Convent is where Maria lived as a young woman

  • Mondsee Church (see picture below), the location of the wedding scene

A visit to Salzburg will let you hit upon some of the highlights of the film. But more than the film locations, there are many historical and architectural landmarks in the city. There is also a picturesque Lake District nearby.

Mondsee Church

To celebrate 50 years of The Sound of the Music, Scenic will offer guests in 2016 an opportunity to experience the music in the production’s Alpine location. Whilst enjoying a stopover as they cruise down the Danube, the “Best of The Sound of Music and Salzburg Show” will entertain everyone.

The excursion is being launched as part of our stunning European river cruises that meander along the Rhine, Danube and Rhone rivers.

Image Credit: glawster, TVB Mondsee - Irrsee (Flickr.com)