Who Wrote the Cheerful Classic, “My Favorite Things,” from ‘The Sound of Music’

“When anything bugs me and I’m being unhappy,” says actress Julie Andrews to half-a-dozen children, all in bed, in The Sound of Music, “I just try and think of nice things?”

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“What kind of things?” the children ask.

And with that, we’re off, beginning one of the most buoyant and delightful songs of the 20th century. But who wrote this classic and what is the song’s ultimate legacy? Let’s dive in.

Rogers and Hammerstein

They are two names you hear often, but sometimes can’t quite place. Did they invent the piano, or the airplane? Not quite. Instead, the duo, comprised of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist writer Oscar Hammerstein II, both New York City-born around the turn of the 20th century, were a beloved songwriting team of stage shows and musicals, from The King and I and The Sound of Music to Oklahoma!

To date, the duo has won 34 Tony Awards, 15 Oscars, two Pulitzer Prizes, and two Grammy Awards. Some call them the best songwriting team of all time. As for The Sound of Music, specifically, the at times-cheerful piece also looks closely at the Nazi takeover of Austria ahead of World War II.

The Sound of Music

The story for the classic film is based on the memoir, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, by Maria von Trapp. The musical by Rogers and Hammerstein is the source of classic songs, “Do-Re-Mi” and “My Favorite Things.” Also, of course, the titular, “The Sound of Music.”

The work opened originally on Broadway and starred Mary Martin, winning five Tonys. Six years later in 1965, the Julie Andrews-led film was released and won five Oscars, including Best Picture.

“My Favorite Things”

At its core, the Rogers and Hammerstein-penned song is about getting your mind out of the dumps. In the film, Andrews first thinks of daffodils. They bring her cheer. Then skies full of stars, raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, brown paper packages tied up in strings.

At this time, the world around Andrews’ character and the family she is helping to take care of is crumbling. The Nazis are coming in, and violence and danger loom. In fact, the group all want to leave and escape the oncoming war.

So, fear is in the air. Yet the music, the litany of happy things, Andrews’ voice and her presence carry the day, calm the nerves. She is able to sustain her joy for three minutes, in song. Dispelling nerves, even as the thunder claps outside. The kids even suggest their own ideas: pussy willows, Christmas, and bunny rabbits.


Perhaps no greater honor can be bestowed upon a song than to have John Coltrane over it. And so he did for “My Favorite Things,” giving it a 14-minute treatment for his 1960 album of the same name.

Trumpeter Herb Alpert also covered it in 1969 for Alpert’s Christmas Album. And 50 years later, pop star Ariana Grande based her song “7 Rings” around the melody of “My Favorite Things.”

Today, the tune is so cheerful and recognizable that it’s bound to live on for decades if not centuries beyond.

Photo by Screen Archives/Getty Images

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