The Sound of Music, by Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics), premiered on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on this date in 1958. It starred Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel as the parents of the von Trapps, a real-life musical family that left Austria during the rise of Nazism. The Sound of Music ran for 1,443 performances and injected into the culture such hit songs as “Do-Re-Mi” (“do, a deer, a female deer”), “My Favorite Things” (which John Coltrane turned into a jazz classic), “The Sound of Music,” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” Hammerstein, who had a Jewish father but was raised Episcopalian, died only months after the show’s premiere, by which time he and Rodgers had written Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and numerous other shows that revolutionized the Broadway stage. Rodgers and Marvin Hamlisch are the only people to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony (EGOT) as well as a Pulitzer Prize. To see Theodore Bikel reminiscing and telling stories about the production, see below.
“What’s wrong with sweetness and light? It’s been around quite a while.” —Richard Rodgers