courtesy of Sloane Travel Photography


The “Sound of Music” in Salzburg

By Barbara Barton Sloane


“The Sound of Music” gave us some glorious songs and “My Favorite Things” remains, today, my favorite from that show; John Coltrane’s rendition of it is exceptional.  And this, one of the world’s best-loved musicals, was staged – where else? – in Salzburg, Austria, of course! And just like that, this production successfully brought to life a living piece of this country’s history. 


Through the years, the people of this city have had misgivings about the show. Some considered it not the “real thing,” somewhat syrupy, even kitsch. More importantly, perhaps, the story touched on Austria’s Nazi past. The country has traditionally claimed that it was the first victim of Nazi Germany; however, in recent times, Austria has acknowledged responsibility for crimes of the Third Reich. Be that as it may, some people still found the issue uncomfortable. Salzburgers preferred to think of their town as the City of Mozart. 


Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

When I visited Salzburg I attended a production of this musical and it seemed that the entire audience, more than half of whom were Salzburgers, elicited not the slightest bit of discomfort. Instead, they were completely engrossed in the show and wildly enthusiastic with their applause after each Rogers and Hammerstein song. The most poignant moment in a show that was chock full of them was the finale — the showstopper — when, during a standing ovation Count Georg von Trapp asked us to sing “Climb Every Mountain” and “Edelweiss” while an electronic libretto system translated the German words into English. We stood and sang the songs with great feeling. The mood was one of recognition, acknowledgment and, yes, acceptance of the play and what it portrayed. Leaving the theater, I couldn’t help humming some of  that brilliant score. I doubt I was alone.


City of Song

Salzburg is one of the most impossibly beautiful spots on earth and its citizens are accustomed to continually hearing tourists exclaim “It must be wonderful to live in such a lovely city!” It is, after all, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage site, the home of Mozart’s birthplace and the renowned Salzburg Festival that will be held this year on 7/20-8/31. Its Old Town is one of the best preserved city centers in Europe, surrounded on the south by the Alps and on the north by rolling plains. Baroque towers and churches abound and narrow alley-ways offer old-world restaurants and charming shops for browsing.


What would this City of Song be today without several “Sound of Music” tours where you visit the original film locations, including the Mirabell Gardens, Leopoldskron Palace and the Nonnberg Convent. After seeing the stage production, I found my tour amusing and fun. One evening we dined in a candle-lit baroque hall, St. Peter Stiftskeller, for a Mozart Dinner Concert performed by accomplished opera singers in period costumes, while enjoying a superb dinner inspired by 18th-century recipes. The Amadeus Consort performed arias, duets and overtures from “Don Giovanni,” “The Marriage of Figaro” and “The Magic Flute,” as well as a rendition of “A Little Night Music.” Properly transported back in time, a saunter through Mozart Square on the way back to my hotel was a nice finishing touch to the evening.


One of the Best

During my time in Salzburg, I had the great good luck to one day enter the enchanting world of Schloss Fuschl, the renowned hotel property situated outside of the city. This legendary fairytale chateau, named by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the 25 best resorts in Europe, was built in 1450 as a hunting lodge. Used as a summer residence for the Archbishops of Salzburg, the castle became world-famous over the years and today is recognized as the number one hideaway resort in Austria. 


We dined one evening at its Restaurant Jagdhof with traditional hunting architecture and typical Austrian specialties, including savory fish from the hotel’s very own fishery.  The mood was one of sophisticated grandeur, enhanced by piano music played from the Great American Songbook. With a luxe spa, inspired dining, and a world-famous collection of “Old Master” paintings, my stay at this dream property will forever be etched in my memory.


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