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Is there anyone who does not love The Sound of Music? The story of Maria’s challenges, adventures, and new-found family includes some of the most memorable music in Broadway history. Maria is A major’s heroine: a will-o-the-wisp. This description is part of Hammerstein’s lyric – a series of phrases spoken by the Abby nuns, attempting to capture Maria’s elusive qualities.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

How do you find a word that means Maria?

A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!

Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her

Many a thing she ought to understand

But how do you make her stay

And listen to all you say

How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?

How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

Maria is a complex character, an amalgam of youthful romantic, blustery new nanny, self-effacing postulant, and ingenious Nazi fugitive.

This week’s Sound Theology includes music in A major that reflects all of these facets of Maria’s personality. The Mozart Symphony is light-hearted and playful. The Brahms Intermezzo seems simple, but it includes a section of contradictory complexity, with a 3-against-2 rhythmic pattern (see m.49 ff). The second movement of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony #2 is high romance. Finally, the list ends with American composer Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite, an echo of the mountain-side image and music of the opening scene of The Sound of Music movie.


The CBC Signature Series in A major includes a Sound Cloud recording of the original radio broadcast.


ST#131 – A major