Written and published weekly by Cheryl Johnson, the Musician's Helper
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The hills are alive, with the sound of music. Yes, that famous line in still one of today’s highest grossing films. It comes only behind Gone With The Wind and Star Wars. This was one of my and my mom’s favorite movies. She didn’t watch much TV, but she would sit and watch The Sound of Music.
In researching for this week’s post, I found some interesting facts about the movie. Hollywood took its liberty making the film and facts were tossed out the window it seems. There are 8 major differences.
The first is the dramatic scene at the end of the movie with the von Trapp family hiking in the dead of night over the Alps to get to Switzerland. Not true. Had they hiked over the Alps they would have landed right in the middle of Nazi Germany. The truth is, they left under the assumption of going on vacation to Italy and boarded a train. They left just in time. The next day, the borders were closed.
Second, the names of the children were changed for the movie. The oldest child in the movie was 16-going-on-17, Liesl. In reality, the eldest child was named Rupert, born in 1911. Rupert was a practicing physician by the time the von Trapp family fled Austria in 1938.
Next, Maria von Trapp was a tutor to one von Trapp child. Not a governess to them all. In 1926, Georg von Trapp’s second child, Maria, became ill with scarlet fever. She became too weak to walk the four miles to school. That is what triggered the captain’s visit to the Abbey in search of a teacher for his daughter. Maria Augusta Kutschera was chosen for what was supposed to be a 10-month stint as governess. She was 21 at the time.
Fourth, according to the film, right after the wedding is when the family left Austria. This was untrue. The happy couple was married for over 10 years before the Nazis took over their homeland, causing them to flee. The von Trapps were married November 26, 1927 and the Nazis were taking control in 1938.
Number five, not all the von Trapp children were in the movie. The captain and Maria had three children together that were not included in the movie due to the timeframe. They had two daughters and a son to go along with the seven by the captain’s first wife. All together, there were 10 von Trapp children.
Number six, the captain was not really as stiff and detached of a father as the movie portrayed him to be. He was actually warm and loving, and somewhat overwhelmed. The scene with the whistle is partly true. He did use a whistle and dressed the children in sailor suits, but he never made them stand at attention and march. According to Johannes von Trapp, the youngest of the 10, his mother, Maria tried to get them to change that part of the movie, but was not successful.
This is my favorite, number seven. The von Trapp family was very musical even before the arrival of Maria. The captain’s first wife introduced music and song into the house and even taught the children to play musical instruments, including accordion, violin and guitar. Daughter, Maria, said her real mom was very musical and that she played violin and piano. They all sang and had at least 100 songs before they met Maria.
Lastly, we address number eight. As so many families did during the Great Depression, the von Trapps lost their fortune when their bank went under in 1930. They were forced to take in boarders in order to raise money. One of those boarders was Father Franz Wasner. He recognized their musical talent and as their musical director, he formed them into professional singers. When the von Trapps fled Austria, Wasner went with them. As they toured Europe and even the United States, it was Wasner that formed them into a musical entity. Many call him the driving force behind the Trapp Family Singers. However, Hollywood thought he would undermine Maria, so the fictional character, Max Detweiler replaced the priest.
Knowing these facts just make this movie even more likeable to me. I may just pull it out and watch it soon myself. If anyone has not seen this classic, I’d recommend it in a heartbeat. It can be purchased thru Amazon.com.
Thank you for reading my post.
As always, B# and God Bless!
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