THREE silent minutes of swooping, swirling shots over Alpine peaks and lakes, the rush of wind, a distant bird song and a tiny figure spinning across meadows to then burst into song ... 'The hills are alive ...' You know the rest. We all do.
The Sound Of Music was the soundtrack of my childhood. I wanted to be Julie Andrews - to the point of having my hair bobbed like hers, learning all the words to all the songs, forcing my blonde, short-trousered twin brothers to march like the von Trapp family and only stopping short of fashioning Austrian costumes for us from the bedroom curtains.
Now, for the first time, the original musical is being produced in its homeland of Salzburg and, dirndl skirt or not, I had to be there for the opening night at the Salz-burg State Theatre. The real von Trapp family story began in 1911 when an Austro-Hungarian navy officer, Baron von Trapp, lost his wife, the mother of their seven children, to scarlet fever at just 31.
Maria Kutschera, a novice in the nearby Nonnberg Abbey, was hired as a governess and, as we all know from the film, would end up staying with the family for ever.
Maria and the baron were married and produced three children of their own. In 1935, the bank where the von Trapps deposited their money went bankrupt and their entire fortune was lost. But as Maria herself later put it, 'God opened a window' when the family's talent for choral singing was discovered after winning a competition at the Salzburg Festival.
As opponents of Adolf Hitler, for whom they were to perform, the Trapp Family Chorus left Salzburg and emigrated to the US in 1938. Extensive concert tours as the Trapp Family Singers followed, and in 1942 they settled to run an Austrian-style hotel in Vermont.
Maria von Trapp wrote The Story Of The Trapp Family Singers, published in 1949. She described the family arriving at New York's Ellis Island with just $4 to their name.
She sold the rights to her autobiography for only £5,730 to the producer Wolfgang Reinhardt in 1956. Then, in June 1964, 20th Century Fox obtained the rights to the musical for £796,000.
And the result was the third most successful Hollywood film ever, winner of five Academy Awards.
Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer gave the performances that defined their careers, but the real star is Salzburg itself. Now a Unesco World Heritage Site, Salzburg provided the perfect backdrop, and the best way to see the city has to be the Sound Of Music tour, an opportunity to recreate your personal version of the film.
You can sing sotto voce How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria at the Nonnberg Convent where the young Maria was a postulate, then dance and sing your way round the fountains of the Mirabell Palace and gardens before swooning at the balcony of the Leopoldskron Palace, where the baron and Maria first danced.
Polka on to the Hellbrunn Palace for a swirling performance of I Am 16 Going On 17 and the Here I Am Standing Here Loving You moment between the baron and Maria.
Sunshine-yellow Mondsee Church is the setting for their wedding. The Summer Riding School featured as the Festival Hall where the von Trapps first perform as a family in the film. Strum your way through what has often been mistaken for the Austrian national anthem, Edelweiss.
If you have an ounce of emotional energy left to Climb Every Mountain, head for the towering Untersberg peak, over which the von Trapps fled to find freedom.
Curiously, the film is not widely known in Austria. Dr Carl Philip von Maldeghem, artistic director of the Salzburg State Theatre, plans to change that by bringing The Sound Of Music home. With a cast of locals, it's clear Austria's got talent when it comes to singing in lederhosen.
Currently running until September 2012, the show can be enjoyed in tandem with an exhibition titled The Trapp Family at the Salzburg Panorama museum, where original family artefacts bring the true story to life. But if you feel in danger of being trapped by the von Trapps, you can always head into the mountains.
By road, you can reach the Salzburg Lake District in half an hour. Surrounded by spectacular scenery, the villages of St Wolfgang and St Gilgen are worthy of the opening aerial shots of any Hollywood blockbuster. And then there's Schloss Fuschl, the only resort hotel in Austria. Luxury like this does not come cheap.
A 'basic room' is so basic it has floorto-ceiling lake views, including the bathroom. Or you can push the boat out quite literally from your own secluded lakeside chalet or book an individual suite complete with Old Masters on the walls.
Of course, Salzburg itself isn't short of luxury hotels. Christopher Plummer sang in the piano bar at the Hotel Bristol. Meanwhile, Julie Andrews was across the square at the Hotel Sacher, where its famous Sacher Torte chocolate cake may well have been one of her Favourite Things.
We were perfectly happy with Hotel Stein and its spectacular rooftop restaurant overlooking the Salzach river, the old city and the monumental medieval fortress Hohensalzburg.
Just a walk from the hotel, across the bridge, brings you to Mozart's birthplace. It was Mozart who originally put Salzburg on the musical map. St Peter Stiftskeller is the oldest restaurant in Europe, dating back to 803 AD, and we enjoyed a dinner and the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the knowledge that he had dined there too.
Rolling back to the hotel, I found myself singing The Sun Has Gone To Bed And So Must I. Now where have I learnt that?
Kirker Holidays (020 7593 2283, kirkerholidays.com) offers three nights in Salzburg from £619 including return flights, accommodation at the Hotel Stein and a Sound Of Music tour. For further information on Salzburg and the region, visit salzburgerland.com and salzburg.info/en.
Tickets for The Sound Of Music (with English surtitles) at the Salzburg Landestheater (salzburger-landestheater.at) range from €16.50 (£15) to €51 (£43) per person.
To book for future performances on selected dates up to June 2012, email firstname.lastname@example.org.