July 23, 2015
‘Not for the first time, Hammerstein had done too good a job’
Mark Steyn writes:
Just as his “Ol’ Man River” for Show Boat is assumed by many to be an authentic Negro spiritual, so “Edelweiss” is assumed to be an authentic Austrian folk song. Not so. In both cases, a great craftsman manufactured them to solve a structural problem with the storytelling. But he did it so well that they have become for real what they were only intended to simulate. Some years ago “Edelweiss” was played at the White House, at a state dinner for Austria’s President Kirschschlager, and everyone but the Austrians stood up for the national anthem. Actually, no. The current Austrian anthem is “Land der Berge, Land am Strome”, but in a curious example of how the lines between reality and showbusiness blur, among the guests at that White House banquet was the elderly Maria von Trapp – not Julie Andrews, not Mary Martin, but the real Baroness von Trapp.