On December 5, NBC aired a live performance of the Rogers and Hammerstein classic. The Sound of Music cast may have changed, but the story is as lively and inspiring as ever. For those of you who might not be familiar with the full impact the show has had, here’s a little history:
The Sound of Music is based (loosely) on the true story of the Von Trapp Family Singers, an Austrian family band that fled their home country during the Nazi Anschluss of 1938. The Anschluss, which means “Union” in German, was a long-debated concept between the nations of Austria and Germany that became Hitler’s pretense for annexing Austria. Though supported by many Austrians, the Anschluss was seen by many others to be a death sentence for Austrian independence. Once such objector was Georg von Trapp, an officer in the Austrian Navy.
Though the historical accuracies mostly stop there, the story presented in The Sound of Music is one of resistance against domination of the heart and soul of a nation. Originally adapted as a musical by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, the story found lasting fame in the form of a movie starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.
It was timely. When it was released in 1965, the story could easily have been compared to the expanding influence of the Soviet Union. To truly understand the cultural impact of the musical, however, one must compare it to the music of the day. From June of 1965 to November of 1968, The Sound of Music soundtrack topped the UK charts on twelve different occasions for a total of seventy weeks as number one. During that run, the soundtrack replaced not one but four different Beatles albums from the top position on four different occasions (Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper). To look at it another way, the three-year-old soundtrack to a movie whose subject matter happened thirty years in the past pushed what many consider to be one of, perhaps even the best rock and roll album of all time off the top of the charts in the band’s home country. Wow.
Now we get the chance to see and hear the musical’s revival live for the start of the holiday season. This production stars country star Carrie Underwood as Maria and Stephen Moyer from True Blood as Captain von Trapp. It’s certain to be a treat and a great way to kick off the season. Of course, we here at Pepper love The Sound of Music as much as you do (also in the literal sense of the phrase), so we have a number of products from the show for your singing and playing pleasure. Why not grab an octavo and sing along?