50 Years Young, The Sound of Music Celebrates a Landmark Birthday

Did you ever think you’d hear Lady Gaga sing “Edelweiss?” Introduced by Scarlett Johansson, Lady Gaga was dressed in white and accompanied by a string section. She sang four songs from the film and musical’s soundtrack: “The Sound of Music,” “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss,” and “Climb Every Mountain.” After her soaring performance, she finished to a standing ovation from the audience attending the 2015 Oscars ceremony — and a hug from Julie Andrews, who whispered to her, “You were amazing.” Andrews played Maria von Trapp , the singing nun/nanny, in the classic film.

The Oscar tribute celebrated the 50th anniversary of the release of the film on March 2, 1965. The film won five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Music adaptation, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing.

How did Lady Gaga pull it off? According to Entertainment Tonight she trained with a vocal coach every day for six months. Who says practice doesn’t pay off? TIME magazine says the performance “has redefined her career.”

But before her GRAMMY-winning debut album, The Fame Monster, her music study laid the foundation for a career in music. Bio.com says

Born Stefani Joane Angelia Germanotta, Gaga accepted to the Juilliard School in Manhattan, but instead attended a private Catholic school in the city. She continued studying music and performing, writing her first piano ballad at the age of 13, and she held her first performance in a New York nightclub at the age of 14.

A few years later, Gaga was granted early admission to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. While there, she studied music and worked on her songwriting skills.

How The Sound of Music Became a Classic, On Stage and in Film

The Sound of Music Facebook page shares interesting facts about the musical, such as:

  • The Sound of Music opened on Broadway Nov. 14 , 1959, starring Mary Martin, who originated the role of Maria Von Trapp. 
  • Do you know that as soon as Julie Andrews was cast in the movie version of The Sound Of Music, speculation turned to who would play her Captain von Trapp? Executives at 20th Century Fox favored Bing Crosby, but the filmmakers also discussed Sean Connery, Rex Harrison and Yul Brynner known for his role in The King and I. The part eventually went to Christopher Plummer. Yul Brenner? Hmmm.
  • Did you know that Richard Rodgers composed the Catholic prayer “Dixit Dominus” acapella for the nuns in an opening piece called the “Preludium.” In the original Broadway production of the musical, the nuns sang behind and in front of the audience – making surround sound before the theater used amplification!
  • Did you know that The Sound Of Music was not the original title that Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II originally thought of when they started to write the musical. They decided to change the title after their lawyer sent them a letter. Was it: A) LOVE SONG B) MOUNTAIN MELODY C) MUSIC IN THE AIR  or D) HILL HARMONY. Visit the Sound of Music  Facebook page for the answer. 
  • Did you know that The Sound of Music was the last collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Other of their musicals through a decades-long partnership included Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific and The King and I.
  • Did you know Mary Martin originated the roles of both Peter Pan and Maria von Trapp on Broadway?
  • In the 50th Anniversary Vanity Fair interview with Andrews and Plummer, Plummer remarked, “Classical music was my first love. It’s given me such extraordinary joy and has been a huge influence on my work, particularly in the classics, where you have to know where the coda comes and where the climax. You make your own symphony out of the words. I do regret that I didn’t continue studying classical piano, which I started to do as a kid.”

Roz Fehr, NAfME Communications Content Developer, February 26 , 2015. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)