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Historical accuracy of the Sound of Music tour

Just out of curiousity I'm wondering if the Sound of Music tour clears up some misconceptions of the Von Trapp family that may have been introduced by the movie. The biggest ones to my mind are the chronology of when Maria married Georg, in 1927, not right before the Anschluss in 1938, the size of the family, the portrayal of Georg as not musical before he met Maria, and the circumstances of their departure from German annexed Austria in 1938. In real life they didn't flee over the border to Switzerland as portrayed in the movie, but rather took the train to Italy (a German ally no less), before beginning their trip to the US, much less dramatic than in real life.

Posted by
8293 posts

Oh noooooo! Say it isn't so. You should have added the words "Spoiler Alert" to the title of your post.

Posted by
1056 posts

On the Sound of Music tour that I was I in the 70's, they did disclose all of the facts. The tour was Bob's Sound of Music tour and I understand that the are still in business. I worked at Disneyland for 4.5 years and I got so tired of hearing the same music over and over again. I can't imagine listening to the Sound of Music for 40 years.

Posted by
24 posts

Did a SOM tour in the 90's....it was basically all about the movie, film locations, behind the scenes, etc.. I loved it, but not because I was all about the actual Von Trapp family, but because I loved the fictional story portrayed in the 'Sound of Music' and the beautiful backdrop that is Salzburg. It did not disappoint. The tour guide did say that they should erect a statue of Julie Andrews for all the tourists it has brought to the city (LOL).

Posted by
2590 posts

Think for a minute, the reason someone would take a SOM tour is that they love the movie. So if a tour dispelled all the legends of the film, do you think they would last long? Does a Loch Ness tour make fun of people who believe in Nessie?

I think most non-movie-addicted adults realize that there's a grain of truth in the film and then it's anchors aweigh. And if you watch travel shows about Vienna they usually end up going on a tour and you can see that it's a mix of tall tales and truth. For instance, the gazebo was shot on a sound stage but now sits in a park. Check out Rudy Maxa and of course Rick, but if you want to see a SOM addict watch Samantha Brown.

Posted by
12040 posts

Looking at a map of Austria is enough to realize that they didn't climb over the mountains to Switzerland. Especially the mountains to the SW, which border a certain place called Berchtesgaden. Not exactly the best place to avoid Nazis in 1938.

PS- The Sissi movies, which occupy a similar sentimental niche for the German and Dutch world as the SoM does for English speakers, also played fast and loose with the historical facts. Shocker!

Posted by
2590 posts

My friend worked on the SOM singalong version that airs now at Christmastime, he still has nightmares.

Posted by
12040 posts

BTW... has anyone seen the Austrian movie about the Von Trapp family? It preceded the SoM by several years, and from what I understand, is a little more of an accurate portrayal.

Posted by
4480 posts

The SoM tours are going strong; we saw several of their buses when we were in Salzburg last September. We didn't take the tour but walked to several of the sights. I took a few nice leisurely photos of the gazebo in the quiet park setting....and 5 minutes later it was swarmed from a tour bus.

I agree that the main reason to walk the sights is that we've watched them (several times) in the movie - not necessarily for factual content.

Posted by
2349 posts

What? The things you say make no sense to me. I cannot comprehend.

Next you'll be saying that Rolf didn't really shout for the Nazis while the family was hiding in the convent. (I hold my breath each time, hoping he stays silent, but no.)

Posted by
5786 posts

SOM tour and movie are entertainment. Our Panorama SOM tour in 2014 entertaining while very clear about fact vs fiction. As a for example, the direction the family fled at the end of the movie would have taken them into Germany, not Switzerland.

Posted by
18313 posts

" Berchtesgaden. Not exactly the best place to avoid Nazis in 1938."

All of the top Nazis had vacation homes in Obersalzberg, at the foot of the Kehlstein, in the Berchtesgaden valley. Kehlsteinhaus (the Eagles Nest) was under construction above Obersalzberg in 1938, and the SS had a major barracks in Obersalzberg.

Just as the movie played fast and loose with the real story, the tours play fast and loose with the movie.

They show you Leopoldskron and tell you it was the Von Trapp home in the movie, when it never appeared in the movie. The producer wanted to use Leopoldskron, but it was being used as a school at the time, and the school didn't want the disruption of a movie being made there. The Von Trapp home in the movie (outside front and back) was the Frohnburg, which wasn't on a lake. They copied the lakeside patio from Leopoldskron at a different location and used it for the patio scenes for the Von Trapp home. The scene where Maria argues with the captain on the patio, in front of the home, after capsizing the boat, was actually shot in two location.

The gazebo in Salzburg, at Hellbrunn, was small and only used for a couple of distance shots at the lakeside patio set. All of the singing and dancing scenes "in" the gazebo were actually shot on a Hollywood set.

Most of the actual venues used in the movie can be seen just by walking around Salzburg.

Posted by
5786 posts

Lee noted that: They show you Leopoldskron and tell you it was the Von Trapp home in the movie... Lee didn't say which SOM tour Lee he patronized. Our Panorama tour guide was very candid as to the authenticity of the Leopoldskron's role in the movie noting that it formed the basis for Hollywood sound stage sets. It's also possible that all guides from a given company may not all use the same script in their commentary on authenticity.

FYI, Panorama's version of the "real" story:
https://www.panoramatours.com/en/salzburg/salzburg-highlights/sound-of-music/the-real-story/

The film itself is based on a true story. Born in Vienna, Maria von
Kutschera was living as a novice candidate at the Benedictine Convent
on Nonnberg in Salzburg when she was sent by her Mother Superior as a
governess to the househould ofBaron Georg Ritter von Trapp to look
after his seven children, left motherless after the death of his wife.
In 1927 Maria became the Baron's wife and began the Trapp family's
legend. And in the early 30's she founded a family choir with which
she undertook frequent public performances whilst they remained in
Austria. After fleeing the country on Hitler's annexation of Austria
in 1938, the family, with ten children, had no income other than that
drawn from their musical performances, known as "The Trapp Family
Singers". Their success in the USA, however, proved sufficient to
enable them to settle there and, in 1941, to purchase a farm in
Stowe,Vermont, which ultimately became the Trapp Family Lodge. Today
the Trapp Family Lodge is a flourishing hotel, and the
great-grandchidren of Capt. Trapp make "New Von Trapp family Singers
Climb Every Mountain".

Posted by
14925 posts

I read that Maria was hardly a sweet, gentle soul (which I believe is how she's portrayed in the movie - I am apparently the only person who has never seen it) but quite the stern martinet of a disciplinarian.

Posted by
9363 posts

The summerhouse, which is now at Hellbrunn, was originally built behind the Meierhof, the former carriage house of Leopoldskron. It is to the right of the Schloss. In 1976, when the movie was relatively new, I was a student at Salzburg College, which was housed in part of the Meierhof. We looked forward to having tour buses arrive in hopes of getting to speak English to others besides our classmates. (SC is a extension of Ill State Univ and Northern IL Univ. It is now housed over the mountain, in another part of town.)

Posted by
12040 posts

And in the early 30's she founded a family choir with which
she undertook frequent public performances whilst they remained in
Austria. After fleeing the country on Hitler's annexation of Austria
in 1938, the family, with ten children, had no income other than that
drawn from their musical performances, known as "The Trapp Family
Singers".

Not quite accurate. The Trapp family lost their fortune in a bad banking investment before they left Austria. The family choir was their primary source of income for several years by the time they reached the US.

Posted by
18313 posts

"The summerhouse, which is now at Hellbrunn, was originally built behind the Meierhof, the former carriage house of Leopoldskron."

Was a "summerhouse" still on the grounds of Leopoldskron when you were there? How could it be the same one from the movie, since director/producer Robert Wise tells us in his commentary on the SOM DVD that they were not allowed to shot the movie on the grounds of Leopoldskron, but instead made a copy of the lakeside patio on a temporary set elsewhere on the lake. Did they move that summerhouse to the temporary set, then back again, or were there two summerhouses, and which one is now at Hellbrunn, the one used for distance shots in the movie or the one at Leopoldskron.

Posted by
6632 posts

I attended a conference a few years ago at the Leopoldskron which is now a conference center; there is a hotel building nearby where people stay and the participants take meals and classes and seminars in the main building. It is a stunning building -- the library is one of those postcard ornate libraries and has been preserved. I particularly recall how good the food was. I lived in Germany in 1960 and one of my enduring memories is how terrible the food was in each of the family homes in which I lived -- I lost a good bit of weight and I wasn't heavy to start with. The food at Leopoldsdron was classic heavy Austrian fare but extremely well done and tasty. We were in Vienna this fall and there was nothing we had on that trip to equal the food turned out by the conference kitchen at Leonpoldsdron.

Posted by
9363 posts

The summerhouse that was built for the movie was on the grounds of the Meierhof, not the grounds of Leopoldskron next door. Yes, it was still there when I was there - it was moved to Hellbrunn some years later. It was used for distance shots, with a backdrop that made it look like it was in a wooded location, when it was really just outside of a building, with a public pool normally in view behind it. There were a number of trees in the yard, but not nearly as many as it appears in the movie. There was no summerhouse on the grounds of the Schloss Leopoldskron. The summerhouse and the patio set were not at the same location. The director of our school, who was there at the time and should know, said that she had met with the people when they came to build it. They didn't violate any "no filming" requirement of the Schloss (which was still a private school when I went to Salzburg College next door) because it wasn't on the Schloss' property at all. During my time at Salzburg College, the photography students used it for some special projects, but otherwise it wasn't used except when movie tours came to see it. It is very small (as you know if you see it at Hellbrunn). The dancing scene was done in a soundstage elsewhere.

Posted by
2590 posts

Having been subjected to some of the movie recently, the scene where Maria and the Big Man proclaim their love to each other in the gazebo is clearly shot on a soundstage. There's a point on the horizon where it changes from decorated floor to painted wall.

Posted by
149 posts

We did Fraulein Maria's SOM bicycle tour in 2014. We expected it to be kitschy entertainment and indeed it was a hoot. It was a fun way to cycle around Salzburg and see the sites. Our guide made many distinctions between fact and fiction including plot changes and specific sites being "inspiration" for scenes in the movie. The facts didn't take any of the fun out of cycling down the tree-lined alley toward Hellbrun singing do-re-mi or taking cheesy photos spinning in a meadow with a backdrop of Alps.

Posted by
9363 posts

Yes, phred, as I said, the scenes filmed IN the gazebo were not shot in the actual gazebo.

Posted by
136 posts

We did the SOM tour back in 1999 and we where so surprised at how many people are true fans of the movie. We did it as a way to get out to see some of the lakes and the stop in the town where they used the church for the wedding was a lovely town but it was pure entertainment and not based on any real facts about the real Von Trapp family. At the end of the bus tour we were so happy to get off the bus and away from the singing SOM tourists!

Posted by
16862 posts

Don't forget, The Sound of Music was a Broadway show before it became a movie, so most of the changes to the "true" facts were made by Rogers and Hammerstein to craft a "hit" show.

Interesting side story:
Q: What kind of naval command did Captain von Trapp have in the Austrian Navy?
A: He was a submarine commander. In fact he was the top Austrian submarine commander (he sank a French heavy cruiser as well as many British merchant ships), and at the end of WW I, he was the de-facto head of the Austrian sub fleet.

Q: Where did he get his money for that big house?
A: His first wife's fortune. Their oldest daughter was named Agathe, after her mother, but Agathe just doesn't sound Austrian enough for a major supporting character. Liesl sounds so much better.

Q: How did his wife get her fortune?
A: She was the grand daughter of the British expat engineer Robert Whitehead, who held the patent for the self-guided torpedo. Long story short, when an idea he had been tinkering with for years, was married to the German invention of a gyroscopic control device, a truly deadly weapon was born. The royalties paid by all the Navy's of the world accrued in a British bank.

Q: How did they loose their fortune?
A: During the world-wide depression of the 30's, Captain Von Trapp was, in an appeal to his patriotism, talked in to moving the fortune out of the British bank to an Austrian bank. The Austrian bank promptly went bust, and the Von Trapp's had to learn to sing for their supper.

Oh, and he was never called to join the Kriegsmarine. Admiral Doenitz would probably have little use for an aging ex-sub commander who had been out of the loop for 20 years and was now in show business. He also had an Italian passport, since his place of birth was ceded to Italy after the war, making it easy to move the family to Italy. I do like irony of his making a career sinking British ships with a weapon invented by his wife's British grandfather and the profits racking up in a British bank.

Posted by
4371 posts

"What? The things you say make no sense to me. I cannot comprehend.

Next you'll be saying that Rolf didn't really shout for the Nazis while the family was hiding in the convent. (I hold my breath each time, hoping he stays silent, but no.)"

I know, Karen, I know...Every.Single.Time: 'Please, Rolf! You DON'T have to do this thing!!!' I also hope against hope that Someone (and You know who You are) will Be Quiet in the cemetery This Time. You've had over 50 years of practice...

Posted by
4480 posts

Luckily, we can all go to Verona for the Romeo & Juliet tour!

Posted by
389 posts

Christopher Plummer was in his mid-30's in that movie. And he was playing someone who had been a naval captain twenty years earlier??

Posted by
6488 posts

This thread has been fun to follow. Let's face it, it was a movie based on a Broadway musical very loosely based on Maria's memoirs. I can't believe there is anybody alive who doesn't know that it was not, in any way, historically accurate. That fact does not stop it from being one of my favorite 'guilty pleasure' movies and did not stop me (and obviously thousands of others) from enjoying the SOM tour in Salzburg. The tour I took many years ago was fun and made it perfectly clear about the filming sites and which scenes were filmed in studios, the tour guide did not even try to pretend it was an accurate portrayal. And, by the way, there was no 'Do Re Mi' singing on our tour (thank goodness).

Posted by
18313 posts

And Julie Andrews was 30 at the time and [playing] just a novice nun.

Posted by
6488 posts

"And Julie Andrews was 30 at the time and just a novice nun."

I guess I don't see the point of this statement. You can become a novice nun at any age, it just depends on when you decide to commit to the life. My cousin joined a convent in her late 20's so could easily have been a novice at 30.

Posted by
18313 posts

The point you missed is that, although Plummer, according to Will, was only 36 at the time of the movie, and could not have been a submarine captain from WWI , the captain he was playing was actually 47 when he married Marie. And the real Marie was only 22 when they married, but Julie Andrews, although depicted in the movie as a very young woman, was actually 30.

Remember, Charleston Heston was 33 when he play Moses, who was supposedly 80 at the time. The age of actors in a movie does not always correspond with the characters they are playing. That's entertainment.

Posted by
2590 posts

As I mentioned, if you want to watch someone get positively giddy about being on a SOM tour, check out Samantha Brown's episode. She was clearly a theater major.

Posted by
71 posts

We did a Sound of Music tour in September. We were aware of many of the misconceptions prior to the tour, but they did also address many of them in the movie. They also did a good job of detailing which scenes were filmed on location in Austria, and which were filmed on a Hollywood soundstage. We did Bob's Special Sound of Music tour and had a wonderful time. The tour took us out into the lake district, and also included a historic walking tour of Salzburg--which was about a lot more than just the Sound of Music. We went to all the major "sites" from the movie--Mirabell Gardens, the church where the wedding was filmed, and the Abbey. We had a great time and I would do it all over again!