While looking over my Firestats, I came across an interesting link. I have known for years that a common misconception surrounding the song “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music is that it is an Austrian folksong. This is false. It was the final lyric written by Oscar Hammerstein II and had nothing to do with Austria aside from the flower that the title comes from. The misconception seems to have arisen during the emotional reprise of the song by Captain Von Trapp during the festival near the end of the musical. In the movie, the overwhelmingly Austrian audience is moved to tears and join in song before bursting in thunderous applause. This could give the impression that the song is of great importance to Austrian people.
Also of note is the fact that the musical is not widely known in Austria. Although Salzburg makes quite a haul by giving tours of the city and surrounding countryside to fans of the show, very few of the tourists are Austrian.
Below is a German translation of Hammerstein’s original by an unknown translator:
Musik: Richard Rodgers