Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sound of Music Tour - Salzburg

The film The Sound of Music is one of the main reasons that Salzburg has become a tourist destination.  It was originally a stage musical by Rogers and Hammerstein, that opened in 1959, and later hit the big screen starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer in 1965.  Before all of that there was a book, written by Maria von Trapp herself, recounting how they became the Trapp Family Singers, published in 1949 (Rogers and Hammerstein used this book in the creation of their stage musical).

Although the directors of the film scouted out several locations, they settled on Salzburg, which was most fitting, since the von Trapps were originally from Salzburg.  Since everything in Hollywood is bigger and better, they hardly used any of the real sites where the von Trapps lived and even when they did use a real place, they had restricted access.  Only outdoor scenes were filmed in Salzburg, while the rest took place on the stages of 20th Century Fox in California.

I've always has a special fondness for The Sound of Music since my grandparents were from Austria and before they became United States citizens were Georg and Maria (now George and Marie).  So in my mind, it was the story of my grandparents, even though my dad was an only child and my Opa came over before WWII.

There was no doubt about booking The Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, which runs twice daily due to the high demand from tourists.  Before we went, I decided to read the book that Maria von Trapp had written, so that I could have more insight into the family (even if the tour was about the movie sites). 

Most of what happened in the movie is true.  She was a postulate at Nonnberg Abbey and was sent to tutor one of the Captain's sick children.  Most people wonder about an Austrian Navy since there isn't a coast in modern day Austria.  Georg von Trapp was in WWI, when it was still Austria-Hungary and there was a coast.  He worked mainly with U-boats and was highly decorated.  Maria came as a tutor to the family in 1926 and the Captain was indeed to be married to a princess.  Maria and Georg had very little contact with each other before they decided to get married, and he was not at all as strict as he was portrayed in the movie.  The movie also took some creative liberties with the gender order and names of the children.  In reality, they were (from oldest to youngest) Rupert, Agathe, Maria, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna, and Martina.

Georg and Maria were married in the fall of 1927 (only 1 year after she came to work for them), and they had two daughters, Rosmarie and Eleonore.  They sang at home and quite by accident, they started a career as musicians.  They were overhead singing in private by a famous singer and she insisted that they perform at a folk festival, which they ended up winning.  They sang mainly religious and classical music. 

In 1938, came the point where they had to leave Austria.  Austria had been occupied by the Nazis, and the oldest son, Rupert, who was a physician was requested to work in the hospitals in Vienna.  The Captain had been offered a commission working on the new submarines (not required as portrayed in the movie).  They both declined their offers, but when the family was requested to sing at Hitler's birthday and they knew they'd have to refuse, they decided it would be safer to leave the country.  They'd lost their fortune by this point (the Captain had taken his money out of banks in England and placed it in a local bank to help out a friend, which later declared bankruptcy), and had no money to make the trip to America.  They had taken a train to Italy the day before the border closed and were forwarded money by a manager in New York who wanted them to tour the country.

They made the journey to America, Maria had a son, Johannes in 1939, and they began touring.  They were forced to go back to Europe when their tourist visas expired, and were touring Scandinavia when the war broke out.  They were then forced to flee back to the States and were able to stay since their homeland was being attacked.  The lived in Philadelphia for a time and continued to tour, although they began to notice that their audiences were becoming smaller and smaller.  Their choice of religious and classical pieces didn't appeal to the American audience like it had in Europe, so they began introducing folk songs to bring in more people.

They eventually settled in Stowe, Vermont, which reminded them the most of their home with such vast wilderness and mountains.  The Captain died in 1947 due to lung cancer caused by his time in the WWI U-boats.  Maria lived until 1987, and only four of their combined ten children are still alive today.  Maria (Georg's third eldest) is the oldest surviving at 97 years old.  All three of Georg and Maria's children together are still alive and a fun fact is that their daughter, Rosmarie is known to be living in Pittsburgh.  What a small world!

Outside of the tour offices there was as metal cow painted with scenes and sites from The Sound of Music.

We got on a big tour bus and headed to our first location.  We went to the area with the lake where the children and Maria fell out of the boat.  At this location was also the trees they were hanging from when the Captain came home with the Baroness.

The Reese family had decided to join us on this tour, so the kids were all happy to see each other and it certainly kept Brady from fussing too much.  We had been worried since it was a four hour tour.

The famous "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" gazebo.  It seems small and it is.  They filmed the inside on set in Hollywood, not inside of this one.

Ainsley has seen The Sound of Music many times and loves it, so it was adorable to see her so excited and singing the songs.

The church that has the red steeple is Nonnberg Abbey where the real Maria was a postulate (click on it to see it larger).  They weren't allowed to film inside and were only able to do the gate scene where the kids come looking for Maria after she runs away.

We hopped on the bus and headed towards the scenic lake district.  This is lake Wolfgangsee.  Mozart's mother was from this area and named him after her hometown.

This is the church in Mondsee where they filmed the wedding scene between Georg and Maria.  In reality, they were married at Nonnberg Abbey, but it wasn't as large or beautiful as this church.  Plus, they weren't able to film inside.

Inside the beautiful church.  Andy made a donation and took home a bottle of holy water.  We thought it a little ironic that it was placed in a Jagrmeister bottle.

After the tour, both Brady and Sam were exhausted and luckily they both fell asleep in their strollers as we scoped out a few more sites from the film on our own.

This is the Mozart footbridge where the kids are beginning to sing "Do Re Mi" in their "play clothes."

This is Mirabell Gardens where a good bit of "Do Re Mi" takes place.

The fountain they dance around.

The archway they run through while singing.

The steps from the very end of "Do Re Mi."  It's really cool how it's a straight shot of the city and the fortress in the background.

A little bit of movie history with my baby boy ;)

Overall, I was glad we went on the tour and got to see the sites from the movie.  The only part of it that annoyed me a bit was that the tour guide was telling people about the real von Trapps and had quite a few of his facts wrong (which I only knew from reading the book that week).

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