Craft Recordings is set to celebrate Robert Wise’s film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s timeless masterpiece, The Sound of Music, with multiple expanded, remixed and remastered reissues of the Julie Andrews-led musical’s beloved—and immensely successful—soundtrack.
Featuring such iconic classics as “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “The Sound of Music” and “Edelweiss,” the 1965 film was an Academy Award-winning blockbuster, while its album broke numerous chart records and, today, remains one of the world’s best-selling soundtracks of all time.
Set for release on December 1, The Sound of Music can be found in a variety of formats, including a Super Deluxe Edition (4-CD/1-Blu-Ray Audio box set and digital). With well over 40 previously unreleased tracks, this definitive set collects every musical element from the film for the very first time, along with instrumentals of each song, plus 11 never-before-heard alternate takes, including rare performances from the cast. The accompanying Blu-Ray Audio disc features the full score in hi-res audio as well as a new Dolby Atmos mix of the original 16-track soundtrack for the ultimate immersive listening experience.
Rounding out the boxset are new, in-depth liner notes by the acclaimed writer, preservationist, and Robert Wise associate Mike Matessino, who also remixed and remastered the album from the original multi-track tapes. In his detailed essay, which delves deep into the making of the film and all of its music, Matessino writes, “You will hear what you’ve heard before, famous songs with the mellifluous tones of Dame Julie Andrews leading the way, but the experience has been transformed beyond what the 1965 soundtrack album offered—with extensions to the songs, a brilliantly arranged underscore, and even some segments not used in the completed version of the film.”
One of the most enduring and successful musicals of all time, The Sound of Music was based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp: a young Austrian postulant who became the governess—and later stepmother—to the seven children of a widowed naval commander, all while the country was falling under Nazi occupation. In 1959, their story was adapted for the stage, with music by the era-defining songwriting team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Carousel). While the production marked the final collaboration of their highly influential careers (Hammerstein succumbed to cancer months after the show’s premiere), it was by far their most successful—leading to a 1965 film produced at 20th Century Fox that starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.
Helmed by director Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Haunting) and screenwriter Ernest Lehman (The King and I, West Side Story, North by Northwest), The Sound of Music incorporated the majority of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s now-classic songs from the stage musical (including “Edelweiss,” “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi” and, of course, the title track), while Rodgers was enlisted to write the music and lyrics to two new songs: “I Have Confidence” and “Something Good.” Bringing his music to life was the Academy Award-winning arranger and conductor Irwin Kostal, who also created the underscore, building upon the original stage arrangements by Robert Russell Bennett and Trude Rittman.
The Sound of Music opened in March 1965, breaking multiple box office records, selling out in movie theaters for over a year, while its extended original run continued until December 1969. Among other honors, The Sound of Music earned five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Score in 1966. Its soundtrack, meanwhile, had an equally awe-inspiring journey: topping the Billboard 200, holding steady in the Top 10 for an astounding 109 weeks and remaining on the chart for more than four-and-a-half years. Fifty years later, Billboard named it as the second-best charting album of all time.
Across the Atlantic, The Sound of Music spent a whopping 70 weeks atop the U.K. album charts and was ranked as the best-selling album of 1965, 1966 and 1968. It was later named the second-best-selling album of the decade (behind The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). In 2018, the album was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry, and today The Sound of Music is counted among the most successful soundtracks ever, with more than 25 million copies sold worldwide.
There’s no question that The Sound of Music (the film) remains a multi-generational masterpiece, but it can certainly be argued that its music—now ingrained in the collective consciousness—has had an even broader reach, transcending borders and time. And now, finally, fans can appreciate all of the music from the film, fully restored, more than half a century after The Sound of Music’s release. In addition to instrumental versions of every song are Kostal’s emotionally charged cues, which blend melodies from the musical’s well-known songs. “What Kostal did, using some of the stage version’s transitional music as a launching point, was treat the Rodgers song melodies as leitmotifs,” explains Matessino. What this means is that he applied “recognizable melodies to specific characters or story elements, which may reappear and intertwine as a narrative progresses.”
Among the previously unreleased highlights is “The Little Dears,” which combines “I Have Confidence” and “My Favorite Things,” and plays as the first cue after Maria meets the von Trapp children. “New Governess,” which was ultimately not used in the film, is also a play on these two songs. The first extended piece of underscore, “The Gazebo,” follows Liesl to her rendezvous with a messenger boy, Rolf, and (as listeners may recognize) leads into “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” One of the more significant cues is “The Captain Apologizes,” which bolsters the moment when the Captain first hears his children sing “The Sound of Music.” The cue features elements of the aforementioned song, plus “My Favorite Things” and “Edelweiss”—all of which represent the Captain and Maria. In Act II, one of the film’s most dramatic moments is punctuated by the strings-based “Unthinkable,” which blends melodies from “Edelweiss” and “Something Good,” as the Captain makes the heartbreaking decision that he and his family must flee their country, amid the rise of the Nazis.
Beyond the album’s instrumental additions, this expanded release also offers fans a rare opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes. One of the most interesting elements, Matessino writes, is that “The Sound of Music provides a window into the arcane world of voice doubles for screen musicals. It was a subject considered verboten until the whiskered kittens started to be let out of the brown paper packages in early 1964.” A prime example of this comes from the classically trained singer Marni Nixon—whose voice can be heard in films like West Side Story (performing songs as Natalie Wood) and My Fair Lady (singing for Audrey Hepburn). Cast as Sister Sophia in The Sound of Music, Nixon also spent quite a bit of time in the recording booth during the early days of production, performing (among other songs) a demo of Rodgers’ new song “I Have Confidence.”
Another intriguing addition comes from a selection of “playback” recordings, which were given to actors for lip-synch matching. “On set, the tracks were played over speakers as the cameras rolled, with the actors singing to their own recordings,” explains Matessino. “The songs would then be enhanced for the finished film, months later, with sound effects and dialogue added as needed. In some cases, the vocals and orchestra recordings remain unchanged, while in other instances one, the other, or both might be altered entirely. There are also occasions where small sections were tweaked after filming. Careful listeners, and especially those intimately familiar with the original album and film, will enjoy detecting these variations.”
Together, all of this incredible music offers a full, sonic picture of The Sound of Music, allowing fans to find an even greater appreciation for the film’s soundtrack and score. Throughout, Matessino’s attention to detail cannot be understated—from his meticulous audio restoration and his thoughtful assemblage of the music to his fascinating liner notes. What is most apparent, however, is his adoration for this classic musical.
“Every mountain was indeed climbed for this endeavor, but the view from the top has made it all worth it,” he writes. “Producing and assembling this release is something I considered a sacred duty, but it was also a thoroughly satisfying and joyful experience for which I will remain very proud and very grateful, mainly because it can now be shared with all of you.”