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Where Was ‘The Sound of Music’ Filmed?

December 17, 2019
6 min read

‘The Sound of Music’ is easily one of the finest and most appreciated musicals that has managed to transcend cultural boundaries to be a truly universal film, appealing to all people. Adapted from the 1959 stage musical of the same name, ‘The Sound of Music’ is actually based on the memoir, titled ‘The Story of the Trapp Family Singers’.

The story deals with a postulant, who goes to the imposing home of a retired naval officer. The man is a widower, and the young woman acts as a governess to his children. Soon enough, she brings music and love to the entire family, and it is not long before she falls in love with her employer as well. Together they band, as they have to face the loss of their motherland to the Nazis.

If you have seen the movie, you already know that it takes place in Salzburg in Austria. Over the course of the film, there are several iconic scenes that have been shot at picturesque locations, or there are some locations that have been simply elevated due to the value of the scene itself (think of the gazebo where ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ is performed). Naturally, you might be wondering about the exact filming locations of this popular movie, and we have got you covered in that regard.

The Sound of Music Filming Locations:

When ‘The Sound of Music’ started filming, the crew did not head immediately to the real locations for the movie. Instead, when principal photography began on March 26, 1964, it started at the 20th Century Fox studios located in Los Angeles. Following this, the crew headed to Salzburg, where they filmed at a variety of locations including the Felsenreitschule, Nonnberg Abbey, Mirabell Palace Gardens, and Residence Fountain, among others. Filming commenced here from April 23, to around May 22. Various other locations nearby were used, and shooting went on till around June 19.

The crew also hit up places nearby including Werfen in the Salzach River valley. Some scenes were also shot in Bavaria, with the Alps serving as a wonderful backdrop. Around July 6, the team headed back to Los Angeles for the remaining scenes, and principal photography ultimately wrapped up by September 1, 1964.

As is evident, a plethora of locations have been hit in this frenzied shooting schedule, and we now proceed to the specific filming locations, rendered memorable by the iconic scenes that have unfolded there.

Salzburg, Austria:

Salzburg in Austria serves as the place where most of the pivotal scenes of ‘The Sound of Music’ take place. Some of the most recognizable locations include Mirabell Palace and Gardens. If you’ve seen the movie, you must know that ‘Do re mi’ is one of the most popular songs. The ending of this song sees Maria and the von Trapp kids at the Mirabell Palace and Gardens. Located in Salzburg’s old town, we can see the movie characters dancing around the Pegasus Fountain, which is located in front of the palace. The other recognizable locations happen to be the rose garden at the north of the fountain and the Greek fencing statues at the entrance.

Residenzplatz Square and Fountain also plays an important part, early on, as Maria can be seen splashing in the baroque horse fountain here, while ‘I Have Confidence in Me’ is playing. When Germany annexes Austria, we see Nazi soldiers marching through this square, while a Swastika flag is raised above the Old Residence Palace’s entrance.

The Summer Riding School (Felsenreitschule) is where the von Trapp family takes the stage, performing ‘Edelweiss’ and ‘So long, Farewell’, for the Folk Festival. Notably, hundreds of extras were hired for the scene to sing along. A little away from this location, on Herbert von Karajan Square, is the Horse Pond, where Maria and the children dance at the end of ‘My Favorite Things’. Leopoldskron Palace is important in its own way since all the lake terrace scenes of the von Trapp family home were shot here. Schloss Frohnburg was also used to show the von Trapp house, rather the intimidating front gates which Maria nervously approaches initially.

Nonnberg Abbey Convent is where Maria lived, and the exteriors of the same have been used in the movie. However, the movie has taken some liberties here, as the convent does not actually look over the old town of Salzburg, but instead has a view of the nondescript southern suburbs.

Mondsee and Werfen:

St. Michael Basilica in Mondsee, outside Salzburg, is remarkable because Maria gets married to Georg von Trapp, in one of the most famous scenes from the movie. Werfen, which is around a 40-minute drive away from Salzburg, has the Gschwandtanger Meadow, which is famous for being the picnic spot where Maria teaches the kids the lyrics of ‘Do re mi’.

Bavaria:

Bavaria is important for being one of the first scenes where Maria makes her entrance. She can be seen twirling at Mehlweg mountain near the town of Marktschellenberg. The sequence where the von Trapps escape the Nazis is also shot on the Obersalzberg in the Bavarian Alps.

20th Century Fox Studios:

Notably, Stage 8 and Stage 15 were used in the studios, but a lot of important scenes were shot there. Firstly, shooting inside the convent was not allowed, meaning that the set was created in the studio itself. The golden foyer and the ballroom, we see in the house, were also recreated in Hollywood. There is an important scene where the Von Trapp family hides from the Nazis behind some tombs. While the scenes have been recreated in Hollywood, they closely resemble St. Peter’s Cemetery and Catacombs in Salzburg.

The gazebo where two of the finest songs in ‘The Sound of Music’ take place, that is, ‘Something Good’ and ’16 going on 17′, is actually both a real-life location as well as something created in a studio. The real-life gazebo is near the Eastern entrance to the Hellbrunn Palace. A larger one was rebuilt in Hollywood where most of the scenes were actually shot.

As is evident, the scenes in ‘The Sound of Music’ have been carefully shot to capture the beauty of the location and to transport us into this enchanting world inhabited by the von Trapp family and Maria. Making the best use of the locations is just one small aspect that has helped this film go down in history as one of the most memorable examples of great cinema.

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