Sound of Music

Sound of Music cover on Playbill

Folks may not recall Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel starred in the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical, The Sound of Music, which opened on Nov. 16, 1959.

Maria Von Trapp published her memoir of 1938 before the Anschluss in 1949. It was immediately recognized as having commercial potential and two German films were made of the story, The Trapp Family (1956) and Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika (1958). While the Broadway production began without music, it was the songs, many of which have become standards, that engaged people. The play won five Tony awards in 1960, including best musical.

The Sisters of Mercy in my grade school had become enamored of music from the play, from the beginning. We performed several of the songs at the former Jackson School when I was in sixth grade. I had never seen nuns so enthusiastic about anything before. When the film version came out, it was a sensation among nuns, grandmothers, and parents who had lived through World War II.

The film starred a 20-year-old Julie Andrews as Maria and Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp. It opened on March 2, 1965. My grandmother had heard about the movie, and in a rare instance took us all to see it at the Coronet Theater on Harrison Street in Davenport. She insisted on paying. The music of the play, and the character Maria spoke to her. The Coronet had been remodeled that year and the Sound of Music ran for over a year.

In school we sang and played the many recognizable songs repeatedly. The whole thing was a phenomenon for us Catholic school children.

There were other plays and films that came from the World War II experience, yet nothing like the Sound of Music.