'The Sound Of Music' is one of those cult films and musicals that some people watch again and again and again. The story behind it is both slightly enigmatic and very American.
Both The Sound Of Music and the story of the real family on which it is based, are extremely well known, but the origins of Maria von Trapp are somewhat mysterious and do not quite gel with her autobiography.
The Story Of The Trapp Family Singers was published originally by J.B. Lippincott of Philadelphia in 1949. Later, it became The Sound Of Music. The American National Archives contains some reliable background information on her and the rest of the von Trapps, but there don't appear to be any skeletons in the family closet. Mysteries, yes, but that is part of the allure of the story.
This programme was made with the full cooperation of the modern von Trapp family of Vermont, including the last surviving sibling of the originals, who is now 98 years old (she was 97 when this was being made); this Maria von Trapp can now no longer speak English, but she can still play the accordion.
American National Archives
Maria von Trapp (1905-87).
The slightly flippant tone of presenter Sue Perkin's does sail close to the wind in some places; did she really need to describe Vermont in the fall as an arborealist's wet dream? She begins and ends her journey in Salzburg, where surprisingly The Sound Of Music had never been performed before. Until now. The people of this city are generally not too happy with the historical inaccuracies in the film, then there is the sensitive subject of the Nazis and the Anschluss - the annexation of Austria - which led to the family fleeing the country. Not mentioned was the well known but seldom mentioned fact that Adolf Hitler was actually an Austrian rather than a German. By the same token, few Scotsmen would choose to claim the Edinburgh-born Tony Blair as one of their own, but that's another story.
Climbed Every Mountain...is currently on BBC iplayer for those who can receive it. Although it will probably contain nothing new to most die hard fans, it does give a rare insight into the people who made the story. And they do not include Julie Andrews.