The Sound of Music: Comparing Timelines

The stage and screen versions of The Sound of Music were based on the real-life story of Maria von Trapp….but the timeline of events was severely condensed for dramatic purposes. Take a look below at the comparison; the musical compresses almost twelve years into a little more than three months on stage.

Maria and Georg von Trapp, whose story famously became The Sound of Music (image from
Troy Cook and Katherine Manley in Central City Opera’s production, running in Denver August 2-10, 2014 (photo by Kira Horvath)
Georg von Trapp is born in 1880, Maria Augusta Kutschera born 1905

Around 1924 or 25 – Maria enters convent, after graduating college [age 19? – she was there for 2 years]Around October 1926 – Maria is sent to von Trapps until June – he is 46, she 21, just four years older than eldest son

March 1927 – Princess Yvonne arrives (a distant relative of Georg’s first wife), Yvonne tells Maria that Georg’s in love with Maria but will still marry Yvonne

May 1927 – von Trapp is determined to be engaged to Princess Yvonne but gets pert note from Maria, calls off proposal to Yvonne; thirteen days before Maria is to leave he uses children to ultimately propose (a bit of a modern game of “Telephone”)

November 26, 1927Wedding

1933 – von Trapps lose money investing in Austrian banks, began to take in boarders

Easter 1935 – Father Wasner comes to villa, becomes choral manager

August 1936 – Soprano Lotte Lehman hears singing, insists they do concerts, enter the Salzburg Festival for group singing, which they win; then invited to radio broadcast, heard by Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg who invites them to sing in Vienna; soon the von Trapps are touring the whole map of Europe

1937 – First European tour

March 12, 1938 Anschluss, the Nazi occupation of Austria

May 1938 – Nazis notice they’re not hanging flags

June 1938 – Decline Germans three times in one week, Escape in broad daylight on train to Italy

Dec. 12, 1937*; “until September” – Maria Rainer is sent to von Trapps

Six Weeks Later [Jan. 23, 1938] – Elsa arrives

One Week Later [Jan. 30, 1938] – Party; Brigitta tells Maria that Captain is in love with her, Maria runs away

Three days later [Feb. 2, 1938]- Maria returns, she and Georg are engaged

Two weeks later [Feb. 16, 1938] – Wedding

One month later [March 16, 1938] – von Trapps return from honeymoon and receive news of the new commission (we are told Anschluss was four days ago—the Nazi occupation of Austria on March 12, 1938)

Three days later [March 19, 1938] – Kaltzberg Festival and Escape [Depicted in the film as being the same night they return from their honeymoon]

* NOTE: Musical “dates” above are based off the historical date of the Anschluss in Act Two, adjusting other dates by the days and weeks mentioned between scenes.

This timeline was created for Central City Opera’s 2014 Opera Insider by Erin Joy Swank, Production Manager/Stage Manager for Education & Community Engagement. Learn more about the creation of The Sound of Music (and the rest of the 2014 Festival) and read interviews with several of the cast members by checking out additional articles.

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