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‘The Sound of Music’ Filming Locations: A Guide

February 19, 2020
5 min read

Ask any group of people about their favorite movie of all time, and the answer will inevitably be the 1965 musical drama film ‘The Sound of Music’. Directed by the multiple Academy Award winning luminary Robert Wise (who also directed ‘West Side Story’), the film boasted the talents of Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer and was phenomenal commercial success, managing to rake in three hundred million dollars way back in the 1960s. Today, the legacy of ‘The Sound of Music’ is irreproachable, having five Academy Awards to its name and enduring renown that continues to make the film relevant even today.

Based on the 1959 stage musical of the same name (which in turn is based on the memoir “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers” by Maria von Trapp), ‘The Sound of Music’ follows the von Trapp family and their new governess Maria. Maria is a struggling nun who is assigned the job of taking care of the exceedingly mischievous seven von Trapp children. Their father, Georg von Trapp, is a retired naval captain who runs his household with military discipline after the death of his wife. While initially cold and hostile towards Maria, the von Trapp children eventually fall for her kind demeanor and melodious personality. Even the stoic captain finds himself falling for Maria affable charms but their idyllic lifestyle is threatened when the Nazis start to take over their country.

If you were wondering what were ‘The Sound of Music’ filming locations, read on.

Where Was The Sound of Music Filmed?

The backdrop for much of ‘The Sound of Music’ is the charming pre World War II town of Salzburg in Austria during the 1930s. The scenery shows off distant snow-capped mountain peaks, verdant hilltops perfect for breaking into a spontaneous melody, and cultured medieval buildings that occupy the imagination. While it is possible to recreate these distinctive features of the region on a set as well, such a facsimile is unlikely to be nearly as authentic as the real thing. This is especially true of the 1960s when CGI wasn’t really an option for filmmakers.

Keeping this in mind, ‘The Sound of Music’ was largely filmed on location in Austria itself, specifically in the city of Salzburg. Limited filming for scenes was also done in studio in California, as well as a few scenes in Bavaria, Germany. Principal filming commenced in late March 1964 and concluded later that year in September.

Check out this behind the scenes picture of the filming:

20th Century Fox Studios, Los Angeles, California

Filming for ‘The Sound of Music’ both started out and concluded at the famed 20th Century Fox Studios at 10201 Pico Boulevard, Century City, Los Angeles in California. The production started out with the filming of Maria’s bedroom scenes as well as the nun Abbey cloister. Sketch artist Maurice Zuberano accompanied director Robert Wise to scout for locations in Austria. After a ten week period, Zuberano prepared a set of storyboards and location photos to art director Boris Leven, who designed and constructed the interior sets at Fox Studios in painstaking detail. It is on these sets that parts of the gazebo scenes in the wildly popular songs “Something Good” and “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” were filmed.

The 20th century Fox Studios have served as the filming location for many world renowned films and TV shows including ‘Modern Family’, ‘Fight Club’, ‘Edward Scissorhands’, and ‘Arrested Development’.

Salzburg, Austria

The majority of the filming for ‘The Sound of Music’ took place in and around the delightful city of Salzburg in Austria. The wedding scenes were filmed at the Benedictine monastery of Mondsee Abbey in Upper Austria, with on location filming also done at Felsenreitschule, Nonnberg Abbey, Mirabell Palace Gardens, and the Altstadt Old Town area of Salzburg.

Check out this picture of actor Christopher Plummer in Salzburg:

Filming on location in Austria presented its own set of challenges. Initially, the town leaders were opposed to Wise’s use of Nazi Swastika banners in the background, which were fairly central to the film’s plot. The story of how Wise got the city leaders to relent is rather fascinating – He threatened to incorporate older newsreel footage of Hitler being cheered on by the Salzburg crowd during a visit in his film. Wise’s gamble paid off handsomely, and he continued filming in Austria unhindered.

The von Tapp villa itself was filmed at multiple locations; the Frohnburg Palace made up the front and back of the manor’s facade, while the backyard was represented by the Schloss Leopoldskron palace nearby.

Other filming locations in Salzburg include the St. Margarethen Chapel and Dürer Studios, which were used during days interrupted by heavy rain (which happened quite often in Salzburg).

Check out these pictures of the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg:

Bavaria, Germany

The opening sequence of the movie and the final scene were both filmed in Bavaria, with the former being shot at Mehlweg mountain near the town of Marktschellenberg. The ending scene where the von Trapps escape from the Nazis beyond the mountains was filmed at the Obersalzberg mountainside retreat in the Bavarian Alps.

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