Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Sound Of Music: Comment From Yi Peng Li

(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.
The original article:

Images: Google.

You Tube: The Quests, The Sound of Music. Video by Billy Ong (August 12th, 2015).

Slip Note:

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.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

To Yi Peng Li:

Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it very much. It is very interesting and informative so I shall post it for next week's blog (last week of October, 2015). I have put up only the first paragraph.

Strange, I had thoughts for the past few weeks of writing about all the musicals my wife and I had seen when were in London since the 1980's and the 1990's, where we made it a point to watch as many of the West End productions as we could. And we covered quite a number. Then your comment came along.

I have been reading your Google+ site. I love the videos and music choices. Very similar to mine.

It would be great if you could be a regular contributor on this blog. Do write again when you are free. And thanks so much for visiting.


I love this song and when I first heard it I thought it was The Shadows. Salute to Reggie Verghese my kampong and school mate from Beatty Secondary.

Actually I heard this song during the 60's and another song 'Mustafa', one of my favourites.

JOEY KOH said...

Yes I would not mind watching the musical The Sound of Music. The movie was such a BIG hit too. I enjoy this great song, always.

SUNNY WEE said...

Not much to add but reader's comments on SOUND OF MUSIC was definitely informative and nostalgic. Can recall watching the movie version in the 60's starring Julie Andrews at a cinema in Orchard Road opposite the former Fitzpatrick Supermart. Can't exactly remember the name.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Was it the PAVILION CINEMA? Small theatre?

SUNNY WEE said...

Yes Andy, u have a fantastic memory for oldies.


Andy, during those days when we were playing in the band to me the groups THE QUESTS and THE CHECKMATES were the two most solid band. Their sound was so compact. Lead guitarist Reggie Verghese from THE QUESTS was the best, followed by Benny Chan of THE CHECKMATES. Dickie Tan of the SILVER STRINGS was just as good.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC by the QUESTS during those early days. Still dynamite today!

The studio recordings with the Quests and the mixer they used were the very best at that time. Hearing the recording now after so many years, I can't find any fault with the sound. Guitar and all. It was a tremendous achievement.


V. nice. V. professionally played.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Hock and all the rest who chipped in with comments and their own nostalgic experience about the musical and The Quests.

I was just listening to the whole LP which a friend gave. Verghese and Chua are not only players, they compose great songs too. Besides Shanty, there's Teabreak, Pop Inn Theme, Champagne, Man from Madrid and my favourite Gallopin'

I must also thank Gabriel Tan from ZENN AUDIO ( for generously giving me this LP together with another 12-inch vinyl by the Fabulous Echoes. I have been playing them for quite a while now.

Fabian Foo said...

Wow you getting an LP of the Quests from a friend. Count yourself blessed to have such a friend.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes Fabian, a long time friend indeed. Our buddy-ship went back since the 1970's. Another friend gave me Rocky Teoh (Malayan Elvis) EPs. And he is from Malaysia. One of my neighbours gave me vinyl records too, Connie Francis, Skeeter Davis, Chet Atkins, etc. LPs.

I remember giving away my Elvis Presley 78rpms 'Baby Let's Play House' and other valuable ones when I moved house.

I think that's the way the world revolves, don't you?

Thanks for visiting the blog.

Linda said...

I never tire of The Sound of Music, Andy! Thank you so much for this great post, and thanks very much for your kind birthday wishes on my blog today. It is very much appreciated! :)

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you Linda. I will visit you more often as there's a feeling of peace and tranquility after reading some of your posts.

SRT said...

Hi Andy,

I am a Year _ Mass Communication student from Ngee Ann Polytechnic. I chanced upon your blog while researching for an assignment. Really interesting articles you have about Rediffusion and its past! I would love to interview you, if possible, for a radio assignment about Rediffusion's golden days and your experiences with the radio station. Do contact me at my email... should you want to know more about it.

Thank you, and hope to hear from you soon!


Ngee Ann Polytechnic | School of Film & Media Studies
Diploma in Mass Communication | Year _

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi SRT, I have sent your mail to Larry Lai. He's the man who can help you. If anything write to me again on this page and I shall forward you my mobile phone.

Unknown said...

Hi Andy.

I am not sure if its the Pavillion Theatre? I thought it was the Orchard Theatre? The Orchard was one of the few cinemas equipped with 70mm projectors and screen. There were only a few 70mm movies because of the extra cost of production and also there were very few cinemas that have the proper facilities to show them. A few of the 70mm titles I could recall were; The Sound of Music, The Greatest Story Ever Told, How The West Was Won and Where Eagles Dare.

When the movie was shown in the early 60s there was a school concession tickets arrangement and students need to pay only $1.00 to attend the show. I also remember seeing The King Of Kings under this concession arrangement.

Thanks for the nostalgic trip brother Andy!


John Cher

SRT said...

Hi Andy,

Thanks for getting back to me! Really do appreciate your help and will contact Larry soon.

I actually contacted you as I was thinking of interviewing someone who used to listen to Rediffusion and their personal experiences with the radio station. However, as you've mentioned, Larry is the man since he was indeed one of the top DJs at that time! I've read your posts about him, they're very informative and interesting. I also find your posts about music eye-opening, especially those about Singapore's local music scene in the past.

Thank you so much for your help and time, I really appreciate it!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

A big thank you to John Cher for his very informative piece about the 70mm format and the movies shown. In my endeavour to focus on the songs of Sound of Music I have entirely forgotten the existence of the Orchard Cinema. The Pavilion could have been too small for the grandeur of both sound and cinematic realism of the films you mentioned.

SUNNY WEE said...


Good to share but i m still doubtful :-(

Unknown said...

Hi Andy, always always good to hear from you.

I wonder which part of my comment is your reader doubtful about??

The Orchard Theatre was the best cinema in Singapore at that time. It was comfortable, fantastic sound and a really big screen, even for the normal 35mm movies. The audience marvelled at the awesome giant movie screen when The Greatest Story Ever Told (in 70mm) was shown there. Orchard Theatre had an open carpark behind the building and it was free parking right in the midst of Orchard Road. This was of course a added bonus for those who drove. The site was eventually closed for the construction of The Mandarin Hotel.

The building also housed the best known and the first Bowling Alley in Singapore!

ULTRA PANAVISION 70: Due to the high cost of raw stock and processing, very very few 70mm movies were made. And these were made for a very select number of theatres only. Other than the titles I have mentioned in my earlier comment, these were also in 70mm;


Have a great Sunday brother Andy!


John Cher

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Sunny Wee has this notion that THE SOUND OF MUSIC was screened at THE PAVILION CINEMA as he remembered it was a small cinema.

I too remember the place that was opposite the Fitzpatrick Supermarket and showed many movies. One movie I saw was TOM THUMB that starred RUSS TAMBLYN. I was fascinated by the Hollywood special effects even at that time.

Perhaps SOUND OF MUSIC was shown at The Pavilion but in 35mm format? That satisfies both the readers then?

Other readers are invited to answer this puzzlement.

Unknown said...

Hi Andy,

In every person whom we meet, whatever station in life he may be at, there is something positive that we could learn from that person. In you, I have learnt to be a diplomat! haha
Thank you for the lesson and in that, you have been my teacher and I, your student!

See you soon!


John Cher