Sun. May 19th, 2024

Think you know everything there is to know about the Sound of Music? Prove it by taking our fun quiz on Sound of Music facts and see how you stack up against other film fans.

If you still need to pass the quiz or want to refresh your knowledge of Sound of Music facts, keep reading. Also, keep reading for Sound of Music facts from the front in Salzburg, where the movie was filmed. I have been working as a guide and talking about the Sound of Music for over a decade.

From Julie Andrews being knocked over by a helicopter to Kym Karath’s near-drowning experience, filming “The Sound of Music” was far from smooth sailing. But don’t let that dampen your love for the film! Get ready to giggle at the lights that interrupted Maria and the Captain’s gazebo serenade and Charmian Carr’s slip during the “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” scene.

But it’s not all fun and games. The von Trapp family’s real-life escape plan, although not as dramatic as shown in the film, is still an inspiring tale of courage and determination.

1. The Hills are alive: Helicopter vs. Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews’ iconic opening scene in The Sound of Music is one that many people remember. However, what viewers may not know is that the filming of this scene was not easy. Not only did Andrews have to endure cold and wet weather, but she had to contend with a helicopter that kept knocking her over. Julie Andrews described the experience as being “flattened” by the helicopter every time it circled her.

Despite bracing herself for each take, she still ended up biting the dust every single time. It’s no wonder she began to get angry after a few takes, but her hard work paid off, and we still enjoy this movie moment today.

"The Sound of Music" - THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965)

2. The Boat Scene: Drowning, Vomiting, and a Failed Rescue

The Sound of Music boat scene was rough for Kym Karath, the actress who played 5-year-old Gretl. Unfortunately, Karath couldn’t swim, and things got scary when the boat tipped over, and she fell into the lake. Julie Andrews was supposed to save the day by falling forward and rescuing Karath, but things didn’t go as planned. Andrews fell backward, and Karath went under, swallowing a lot of water and vomiting all over her co-star Heather Menzies-Urich. Talk about a rough day on set!

The Rowboat scene from The Sound of Music

3. Something Good Gets Even Better with a Dose of Giggles

As Maria and the Captain declared their love in the gazebo, they had to stand close together and serenade each other with “Something Good.” However, their romance was interrupted by lights causing Andrews to giggle. Andrews recalled, “Christopher would be looking into my eyes and saying, ‘Oh Maria, I love you,’ and there’d be this awful raspberry coming from the lights above us.” In the end, the director decided to turn the lights off and film the scene in silhouette to capture the romance between the two characters.

Something Good from The Sound of Music

4. Sixteen Going On Seventeen Takes a Turn for the Worst

The song “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” is one of the most beloved songs from The Sound of Music. However, the filming of this scene was far from smooth sailing. During the first take, Charmian Carr (who played Liesl) slipped and fell off the gazebo while trying to dance with Rolf. After a few takes, she got it right, but not without laughter from her co-stars. Andrews and Menzies-Urich were so amused by her misstep that they had to be asked to stop laughing to get back on track!

Sixteen Going on Seventeen from The Sound of Music

Fun Fact: After the film was finished, Hollywood gifted the gazebo to Salzburg, but it was located on private property in the garden of Leopoldskron Castle. The gazebo quickly became a tourist destination, with visitors trespassing to get a closer look. To make the gazebo more accessible, it was eventually moved to Hellbrunn Park, open to the public during the day. That’s how the gazebo became a spot for fans to reenact the “16 Going on 17” song – people of all ages would hop on the benches. In fact, some of the dancers were more like “60 going on 70” After a woman injured her leg in an accident, the city closed the gazebo. It remains in public space but is locked and not accessible to visitors.


5. Growing Pains: Friedrich’s Height Spikes During Filming

Friedrich, the eldest von Trapp child, was played by Nicholas Hammond. While filming The Sound of Music, Hammond experienced a growth spurt that caused him to outgrow his costume. As a result, he had to be fitted with a new costume every few weeks to keep up with his changing size! This made it difficult for the production team to keep up.

6. The Sound of Music’s Nazi Flag Controversy

When filming “The Sound of Music” in Salzburg, the city attempted to prohibit using the Nazi flag in a scene depicting the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany) by the movie’s end. But Hollywood had a trump card up their sleeves – they threatened to use actual footage of Nazis marching on that day if the flag scene was cut. Yikes! In the end, the city caved and allowed the flag to be used, probably because they didn’t want to see actual footage of Nazis parading the streets.

7. Do-Re-Mi: A Song that Survived Filming Hiccups

As a local, I can attest that filming the movie in our city must not have been easy. Salzburg has the most precipitation in Austria due to its geography at the foot of the alps. The film crew faced constant challenges due to the elements. The rain was so persistent that the shooting was extended from a month and a half to three months. Due to frequent rain showers, even the iconic “Do-Re-Mi” song took almost two months to complete. But the weather was not the only reason it took unreasonable time to film that one song, which brings us to our next Sound of Music fact.

"Do-Re-Mi" - THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965)

8. The Von Trapps’ Escape Plan: Not Exactly as Shown in the Movie

The von Trapps’ escape plan in The Sound of Music was not exactly as shown in the movie. In reality, the family did not cross the Alps on foot but instead took a train to Italy. Georg von Trapp was born in Zadar; therefore, the family had Italian citizenship. From Italy, they moved to the Netherlands, to London, and only then arrived in the US. They faced many challenges as refugees fleeing Austria. Still, the story of the real von Trapp family was less dramatic than Hollywood has made it out to be.

9. The Sound of Music’s Historical Inaccuracies: A Closer Look

Despite being a classic, the escape is not the only historical inaccuracy in the movie. For instance, there were 10 von Trapp children instead of seven, Maria and Georg von Trapp were married 11 years before the Nazis took over Austria, and by all accounts, he was a kind man rather than the harsh disciplinarian depicted in the film. It was surprising to read that Maria did not love him at the time of their marriage. To learn more about these fascinating details and other interesting facts that separate fiction from reality, read our article on Sound of Music facts vs. fiction! It might surprise you what you find out.

10. The Sound of Music: A Geographical Adventure!

In the Do-Re-Mi, it looks like Maria and the kids are running from one place to the other, but many places are in different locations, some as far as 45 kilometers south of Salzburg. Salzburg’s mountains are in the south. As a result of the scenes from the south, many tourists believe that the mountains are in the middle of the city. Maria’s journey to the monastery is another example. As she walks with her guitar, she appears at different places around the city before she boards the bus, whose window reflection shows Mondsee in the lake district. The lake district is not on the way to the Frohnburg palace but is full of idyllic mountain ranges.

I Have Confidence from The Sound of Music

11. The Villa Trapp: A Historical Landmark Off Limits to The Sound of Music

The Villa Trapp in Aigen outside of Salzburg, where the real-life family lived, could not be used for filming, as it was used by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood at the time. The Missionaries still own the house, but from 2008 to 2021, the villa was rented out. The building was run as a hotel until the lease expired in 2021, but it was never a popular place for movie fans, even when it was run as a hotel. The filming locations are much more popular. If you want to visit them and recreate your favorite scenes from the movie, read our article on the Sound of Music filming locations in Salzburg.

12. Austria’s Lack of Love for The Sound of Music

There is a widespread belief that Austrians don’t like The Sound of Music. That’s not accurate, in my opinion. Most Austrians have never seen the movie, so we don’t dislike it. I have seen it many times, but only because my father is from the Netherlands. I was born in Austria, but every time I visited my grandmother when I was young, she showed me the Sound of Music. I am, however, an exception.


I estimate that upwards of 99% of Austrians have never seen the movie. Since they haven’t seen it, they can’t dislike it. It isn’t because the movie doesn’t interest them either. Most Austrians have never heard about the movie outside of tourism contexts.

It would be possible that Austrians dislike the Sound of Music due to the stereotypes it reinforces and the historical inaccuracies it contains, but I don’t think so. Salzburg’s rejection of a request to name a street after Maria due to her reputation for being cruel to children could also be a factor. Edelweiss being mistaken for the national anthem could be seen as a misrepresentation of Austrian culture. These are only speculations, however. I think none of these are actual reasons for my fellow Austrians not to have seen the movie.

13. The Actress Who Played Liesl: Too Old for Sweet Sixteen?

Who says you need acting or musical training to become an icon? Charmian Carr proved that theory wrong when she beat out some big names to land the role of the eldest von Trapp sibling. At 21 years old, Carr was recommended by her mother, who noted that she could pass for 16. And even though she had no former training at the time, Carr’s natural talent shone through. She won over the casting agents with her beautiful voice and appearance. Talk about making a splash in your breakout role!

By the way, the Charmian Carr memorial next to the gazebo in Hellbrunn is the only memorial for the Sound of Music in Salzburg because the city of Salzburg didn’t want Salzburg only to be famous for the Sound of Music.

Sound of Music Facts like Liesl repeatedly slipping on these benches in the Gazebo.

14. Casting Call: Maria and the Captain

The casting process for “The Sound of Music” was drama-filled! Numerous other actresses, including Grace Kelly, were considered for the role of Maria, but Andrews ultimately won the part. Andrews feared being typecast as a nanny after Mary Poppins, so she wasn’t sure if she wanted the role, but she could show her range in another movie in between. As for the Captain, other actors, for example, Sean Connery and Bing Crosby, were also considered, but Christopher Plummer was chosen.

15. Sound of Mucus: Plummer’s Performance Earns Surprising Oscar

Christopher Plummer’s dislike of The Sound of Music was well-known. Because he disliked the film, he said playing Captain von Trapp was the most challenging role he had ever played. Plummer felt that the movie was too sentimental and melodramatic. He reportedly called it “The Sound of Mucus” and said he felt like he was “just going through the motions.” Despite his disdain for the movie, Plummer’s performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

16. Captain von Trapp: The Dubbed Version

Christopher Plummer didn’t sing the Edelweiss. The singing voice for Captain von Trapp was provided by singer Bill Lee. Lee was brought in to dub over actor Christopher Plummer’s singing voice because Plummer’s voice was not considered strong enough for the role. Plummer’s singing voice couldn’t match the trained and talented singer of Julie Andrews, who played Maria in the film. Dubbing allowed the actor to focus on his acting and helped to create a more cohesive and polished scene.

Our next Sound of Music fact will explain why a little help to create a cohesive scene might have been necessary for Plummer.

17. Edelweiss, Edelweiss: Plummer’s Reportedly Drunk Performance

Who would have thought a little liquid courage could add so much drama to a film shoot? Christopher Plummer admitted that he was drunk while filming the Edelweiss song towards the end of the film. Plummer was out drinking when he was unexpectedly called to set – oops! Although Plummer was “three sheets to the wind,” he still delivered an emotionally powerful performance at the music festival, the most emotionally difficult turning point as the von Trapp family prepared to escape Nazi Austria.

18. Edelweiss: Not the Austrian National Anthem? Fans shocked!

As a tour guide in Salzburg, I’ve heard Edelweiss being sung all over the city! Captain von Trapp sang it as a tribute to his love for Austria and rejection of Nazism. Many people associate the tune with my home country. It’s, however, essential to note that “Edelweiss” is not Austria’s national anthem. It’s not even a traditional song, but it was written for the movie. The song was written so convincingly that even director Robert Wise thought it was Austrian folk and was surprised that none of the Austrian extras knew it. Fun fact: Ronald Reagan played Edelweiss for the Austrian president at a state dinner in 1984, thinking it was the national anthem.

Edelweiss from The Sound of Music

19. The von Trapps’ American Dream: A Family Lodge

The Trapp Family Lodge in Vermont is where the von Trapps settled after leaving Austria and touring the US. The lodge opened in 1942 and is still run by family members today. Travelers who want to learn about the real von Trapps flock here. It’s also on my bucket list. If I ever visit the US, which I haven’t, I’ll make sure to combine my job as a tour guide, my passion for Salzburg, and its history with my travel lust and visit the beautiful Vermont setting to pay tribute to the Trapp family.

Werner Tree Dedication Ceremony 1

20. From Maria von Trapp’s Memoirs to the Big Screen

Before the film “The Sound of Music” was released, there was a German predecessor called “Die Trapp-Familie” (The Trapp Family), which was released in 1956, and its sequel “Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika” (The Trapp Family in America) in 1958. These films were based on the memoirs of Maria von Trapp, the real-life inspiration for the von Trapp family in “The Sound of Music.” The films were reasonably successful in post-WW II West Germany. American playwrights bought the rights to the story and adapted it into a successful Broadway musical that opened in 1959. The musical was then adapted into the film version of “The Sound of Music,” which was released in 1965.

Die Trapp-Familie - Film Trailer (1956)

21. Real-Life Inspiration Makes a Cameo in The Sound of Music

The real-life inspiration for the von Trapp family, Maria von Trapp, made a cameo in The Sound of Music. During the confidence song, when Julie Andrews is on her way from the monastery to the house, the real Maria can be seen in the background. You can’t recognize her. The moment is short but. I checked every frame of the scene. She is always too small and blurry, but it’s confirmed that it’s her. Maria was invited to the set by director Robert Wise and met Julie Andrews!

22. The von Trapp Family’s Limited Role in The Sound of Music

Did you know that the von Trapp family, the inspiration behind the film, had limited input in its creation? The rights to their story were initially sold to German producers. It wasn’t until American playwrights got involved and bought the rights from the German producers that “The Sound of Music” came to life on the big screen, but the Trapp Family didn’t have much input in the making of the iconic film.

23. The Sound of Music was a Winner at the Box Office

The budget for The Sound of Music was $8.2 million, not a small budget but not a lot. Cleopatra, which flopped earlier, almost had a more than three times bigger budget. This was a significant investment, especially considering the film’s initial box office success was not guaranteed. Despite the initial financial risk, The Sound of Music became a massive commercial and critical success, earning over $286 million at the box office and winning five Academy Awards. The Sound of Music is still considered one of the most successful musicals ever made into a film.

24. The Sound of Music: A Lifesaver for 20th Century Fox

In the mid-1960s, 20th Century Fox was in dire financial straits after the expensive and ultimately unsuccessful film Cleopatra. The studio was in danger of going bankrupt when The Sound of Music was released. Fortunately, the film became a massive success, surpassing Gone With The Wind as the highest-grossing film of all time and winning five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Inflation-adjusted, the Sound of Music remains one of the highest-grossing films. Its success was a lifesaver for 20th Century Fox and helped put the studio back on solid footing.

25. Not our favorite Thing: Schnitzel with Noodles

We Austrians do not eat Schnitzel with Noodles (despite what Maria from The Sound of Music may have you believe). The combination is practically unheard of here, but maybe they just wanted to spice up their diet of nothing but Edelweiss and yodeling. There is no doubt that schnitzel with noodles is not a “favorite thing” for Austrians, but The Sound of Music will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Sound of Music Joke on the wall of a hostel in Salzburg



By Lala