The hills are alive with the sound of music in the stunningly historic town of Salzburg, Austria.

Besides acting as the birthplace for one of the most famous musicians and composers in history, many may recognize this backdrop from a more recent musical accomplishment. The beautiful, rolling hills and lush, green landscape of this town was employed as the setting for the Tony Award winning musical, and Academy Award winning movie-musical, The Sound of Music. After its initial cinematic release in 1965, The Sound of Music became the highest grossing film of all time, beating out Gone with the Wind, and held the title for five years post-release.

This iconic masterpiece follows the story of the von Trapp family as they struggle with the Nazi takeover of Austria in the late 1930’s. However, many do not realize that the lively and entertaining movie is based on true events, written about in the memoirs of Maria von Trapp, the inspiration for Julie Andrew’s Golden Globe winning performance. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, an autobiography written by Maria von Trapp, describes the true story of the musically-inclined family, from her original role as tutor for one of the von Trapp children, to the family’s escape to America upon the Nazi annexation of Austria.

In 1926, Maria, then studying to be a nun, was brought into the von Trapp household to tutor one of the children of the family, who was recovering from scarlet fever. A year later, she agreed to marry Georg von Trapp, patriarch of the family, because of her deep love for his children. It was not until years later that her love for Georg would grow from that of friendship, to a consuming, romantic love. Following the worldwide depression in the early 1930’s, the von Trapp family experienced a considerable loss of wealth and in response to this, the von Trapp Family Singers were born. The singing family toured Austria and throughout Europe, starting with their success at the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936.

In 1938, as Nazi influence began infecting Austria, the von Trapp family came to the conclusion that they would not abide by this regime. Georg refused to fly the Nazi flag at their home, and turned down an invitation to sing at Hitler’s birthday party. To escape German influence, the family decided to pack up their singing troupe and take it on the road to America. By September, 1938, the family had left behind everything they knew and landed in New York to start their new lives.

In current times, history and cinema enthusiasts are able to tour the von Trapp family home as well as various film locations for the acclaimed movie. This includes the Basilica St. Michael, where the movie’s wedding scene was filmed.

The story of the von Trapp family is inspirational, and continues to captivate audiences to this day. It shows the true valor behind refusing the powers of evil, no matter what influence it holds, and choosing to find a higher path.

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