On Saturday Maria von Trapp died at her home in Vermont at age 99. She was the last member of the musical family – the second oldest daughter – and was loved by all who knew her. Hardly anyone alive today has not heard of “The Sound of Music,” the 1959 Broadway musical and 1965 movie that immortalized the von Trapp family. The von Trapps were an Austrian family who sung professionally. Their musical ability allowed them to outwit officials in the Nazi party and flee their beloved home country to escape Nazi occupation.
The Sound of Music was originally a 1949 book written by Maria von Trapp, the second wife of Georg. It relates the story of a woman who married a widower who had seven children, and how she taught them music.
The father of the von Trapp Family Singers, Georg, was a sea captain. His first wife Agathe, who died of scarlet fever, was the mother of seven – Rupert, Agathe, Maria, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna and Martina. Georg married Maria, who in real life really did leave the convent to marry him, and together they had three more children, Rosemarie, Eleanore and Johannes.
The story of the von Trapps – refusing to go along with the Nazi dogma – has been inspirational since The Sound of Music was released in 1965. After leaving Austria, they emigrated to the U.S. and toured the world for two decades, singing.
Sofi, Melanie, Amanda, and August von Trapp are the great grandchildren of Captain and Maria von Trapp. The four siblings have carried on the singing tradition, touring the world to critical acclaim.
By Fern Remedi-Brown