Recording information: Hit Factory's Studio I, New York, NY (03/16/1998).
Director: Michael Rafter.
Editor: Robert Mayer .
Photographer: Joan Marcus.
Arranger: Irwin Kostal.
When the film version of the 1959 Broadway musical The Sound of Music, the final collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, opened in March 1965, it became the highest grossing movie in history up to that time and went on to win the Academy award for best picture. The accompanying soundtrack did not do as well, probably because many households already possessed copies of the massively successful original Broadway cast album. But it did manage to hit number one and spend four-and-a-half years on the charts. (As of 2000, RCA was claiming North American sales of 11 million copies, though the album had never been certified beyond the gold level.) It was a very different recording from the Broadway LP. The main difference, of course, was the substitution of Julie Andrews for Mary Martin in the starring role of Maria, the postulant who leaves an Austrian convent to marry a wealthy naval captain with seven children. Martin, at whose behest the show was written, was a 45-year-old Broadway veteran when she started to play Maria, a real person who had been 21 when the events depicted in the show began. Martin relied on her considerable charm to mask the age difference. But she had displayed little interest in film during her career, and could hardly have been cast in the movie version after the age of 50 in any case. Andrews, though also a Broadway veteran, having starred in My Fair Lady (and, ironically, been passed over for the film version) among other shows, was only in her late 20s. Fresh from her Academy award-winning appearance in the title role of Mary Poppins, she was well-placed to play another children's nanny and proved to be superb in the film as well as on the soundtrack album (though performances gauged for the screen sometimes came off as overly exuberant on record, particularly "Do-Re-Mi"). Irwin Kostal's arrangements were much more ornate than those of Robert Russell Bennett for the Broadway show. The film version eliminated songs as "How Can Love Survive?" and "No Way to Stop It" that had been performed by supporting characters; also, the duet "An Ordinary Couple" was gone, replaced by "Something Good." (Hammerstein had died, and Rodgers supplied his own lyrics to this new song and to "I Have Confidence," which Andrews put across winningly.) Popular as the film may have been, the soundtrack album was worth owning primarily because of Julie Andrews, and the original Broadway cast album remained definitive. Since no edition of the album accurately credits the singers, it should be noted that Bill Lee's singing voice has been dubbed in for Christopher Plummer, who plays the romantic lead Captain von Trapp, and that it is Margery McKay who is singing, not the screen actress Peggy Wood, as Mother Abbess on "Climb Ev'ry Mountain." ~ William Ruhlmann