(You Tube Video: *The Quests from Singapore with 'The Sound of Music')
An article from this blog on Sunday, May 17th, 2009 about The Sound of Music drew this comment from a reader, Yi Peng Li:
"I chanced upon your Sound of Music post very much by accident. Please might I share a few things with you? It's fitting that I should be saying them in the year when the film of the musical marks its golden anniversary, just like our beloved Republic of Singapore just did.
As with many successful film musicals based on stage shows, most people don't realise that The Sound of Music originally started out as a stage musical before it became a successful film. Rodgers and Hammerstein originally wrote it in 1959 for Mary Martin, who created the role of Maria in the original Broadway production opposite the late Theodore Bikel as Captain von Trapp (image 1 below).
It had been successful as a Broadway show even before it became a film. It ran for 1,443 performances, opening at the Lunt-Fontanne theatre on November 16, 1959. The original stage musical had two songs that were subsequently cut from the film, though, technically, Irwin Kostal used the song How Can Love Survive as an instrumental background in the film when the Baroness enters the ballroom after seeing Maria pack.
There's a special fact that I would like to share with you. Captain von Trapp's beautiful song Edelweiss was the very last song that Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote together (image 2 below).
Hammerstein was dying of a terminal illness when he wrote the words. Rodgers composed this song to cater to the unique folk-singing talents of Theodore Bikel and to give the character of the Captain a chance to say goodbye to his occupied homeland in song.
In the original stage show, we only hear Edelweiss at the festival concert, while Ernest Lehman, the screenplay writer, slotted in an extra scene early on where the Captain sings it with his children. In any case, I can't help thinking that Oscar Hammerstein viewed Edelweiss as his song saying goodbye just as Captain von Trapp did."
I'm wondering if you've heard any of the recordings of the stage musical, starting with the 1959 Broadway recording with Mary Martin. Though HMV has closed now, I think you might be able to hear this on Apple Music, Spotify or YouTube.
I've got a unique collection of Sound of Music recordings at home, including the 1998 Broadway revival version with Rebecca Luker (image 3 above) and the 1999 Australian revival with Lisa McCune, based on the 1998 revival.
It's interesting that you mention the 80's blockbuster mega-musicals like Cats, Les Miserables or Phantom of The Opera. I've had a thought that these big film musicals of the 50's and 60's were like mega-musicals too. The film studios spared no expense in making these films and promoting them. The films of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals (and many others as well) were like extravaganzas in the cinema."
Thank you very much Peng Li for your contribution.
You Tube: The Quests, The Sound of Music. Video by Billy Ong (August 12th, 2015).
A Long Play vinyl by EMI SE Asia and recorded at McDonald House Singapore has The Best of The Quests instrumental rendition of 12 of the most traditional, local and popular songs on one album.
The numbers are: Pop In Theme, Mustapha, Gallopin, Hava Nagila, SOUND OF MUSIC, Lengang2 Kangkong on Side One. Teabreak Ding Dong Twist, Man From Madrid, Shanty Champagne, Hur Pi Tzu Shau Hsiang are on Side Two.