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Maria von Trapp

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Title: Maria von Trapp  
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Subject: The Sound of Music, How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?, The Sound of Music Live!, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, Stowe, Vermont
Collection: 1905 Births, 1987 Deaths, 20Th-Century Singers, Austrian Baronesses, Austrian Emigrants to the United States, Austrian Female Singers, Austrian Roman Catholics, Burials in Vermont, Cardiovascular Disease Deaths in Vermont, Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Musical Theatre Characters, Musicians from Vienna, People Who Emigrated to Escape Nazism, Recipients of the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1St Class, Recipients of the Benemerenti Medal, Recipients of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria, Stowe, Vermont, Trapp Family
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Maria von Trapp

Maria von Trapp
Photo from Declaration of Intention, 21 January 1944
Born Maria Augusta Kutschera
(1905-01-26)26 January 1905
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died 28 March 1987(1987-03-28) (aged 82)
Morrisville, Vermont, U.S.
Religion Roman Catholicism
Spouse(s) Georg von Trapp
(m. 1927–47; his death)
Children Rosmarie von Trapp
Eleonore von Trapp
Johannes von Trapp

Maria Augusta von Trapp (née Kutschera; 26 January 1905 – 28 March 1987), also known as Baroness von Trapp,[1][2] was the stepmother and matriarch of the Trapp Family Singers.[3][4] Her story served as the inspiration for a 1956 German film that in turn inspired the Broadway musical The Sound of Music (1959) and the 1965 film of the same name.[5]


  • Early life 1
  • Marriage 2
  • Financial problems 3
  • Early musical career and departure from Austria 4
  • Move to the United States 5
  • Death 6
  • Decorations and awards 7
  • Children 8
  • The Sound of Music 9
  • Writings 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Early life

Maria was born on 26 January 1905, aboard a train heading from her parents' village in Tyrol to a hospital in Vienna, Austria.[5] She was an orphan by her seventh birthday. She graduated from the State Teachers College for Progressive Education in Vienna at age 18, in 1923. In 1924 she entered Nonnberg Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Salzburg, as a postulant, intending to become a nun.

In 1926, while still a schoolteacher at the abbey, Maria was asked to teach one of the seven children of widowed naval commander

  • History of the von Trapp Family (from the Trapp Family Lodge website)
  • Site regarding the von Trapp descendants

External links

  1. ^ Inc., New York Times. "Tribute to Baron von Trapp Joined by Country He Fled". New York Times - 14 July 1997. Retrieved 27 February 2015. The ceremonies ended today in a morning Mass, at which the cadets stood watch during a performance of Franz Schubert's German Mass, then laid a wreath at the grave of Baron and Baroness von Trapp, who were portrayed by  
  2. ^ Gearin, Joan. "Movie vs. Reality:". The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration - Winter 2005, Vol. 37, No. 4 National Archives. Retrieved 27 February 2015. Georg von Trapp, born in 1880, became a national hero as a captain in the Austrian navy during World War I. He commanded submarines with valor and received the title of "Ritter" (the equivalent of the British baronet or "Sir", but commonly translated as "Baron") as a reward for his heroic accomplishments. 
  3. ^ "Maria Augusta Kutschera von Trapp".  
  4. ^ a b c "Tribute to Baron von Trapp Joined by Country He Fled".  
  5. ^ a b c d e f g  
  6. ^ a b  
  7. ^  
  8. ^ a b c d Trapp, Maria Augusta (1953). The Story of the Trapp Family Singers.  
  9. ^ a b c d e "Petition for Naturalization for Maria von Trapp".  
  10. ^ a b Gearin, Joan. "The Real Story of the von Trapp Family".  
  11. ^ a b "Family Choir".  
  12. ^ It should be noted, however, that the "seven young singing von Trapps" ranged in age from 16 to 27 and were not young children.
  13. ^ a b "Group Heard in Choral Works of Five Centuries in Its First Appearance Here".  
  14. ^ Trapp, Maria Augusta (1972). Maria: Maria von Trapp, My Own Story.  
  15. ^ "Declaration of Intention of Maria Von Trapp".  
  16. ^ Clifford, Stephanie (24 December 2008). "Von Trapps Reunited, Without the Singing". New York Times. Retrieved 26 December 2008. Still, Johannes von Trapp, the 10th and youngest child, remembers growing up relatively anonymously in a quiet, strict home. ... By 1969, he had graduated from Dartmouth, completed a master’s degree from the Yale school of forestry and was planning on an academic career in natural resources. He returned to Stowe to put the inn’s finances in order, and ended up running the place. He tried to leave, moving to a ranch in British Columbia in 1977 and staying a few years, then moving to a ranch in Montana. But the professional management in Stowe kept quitting. 'Now I’m stuck here', he said. 
  17. ^ Anderson, William (1998). The World of the Trapp Family. Anderson Publications.  
  18. ^ Alter, Charlotte (20 November 2013). "NBC's The Sound of Music Live: What Went Wrong and What Went Right".  
  19. ^  


  • The Story of the Trapp Family Singers (1949)
  • Around the Year with the Trapp Family (1955)
  • A Family on Wheels: Further Adventures of the Trapp Family Singers (c. 1959)
  • Yesterday, Today and Forever: The Religious Life of a Remarkable Family (1952)
  • Maria (1972)


In December 2013, a live TV production of the stage play, The Sound of Music Live!, was broadcast on NBC, starring Carrie Underwood as Maria.[18][19]

Maria von Trapp made a cameo appearance in the movie version of The Sound of Music (1965). For an instant, she, her daughter Rosmarie, and Werner's daughter Barbara can be seen walking past an archway during the song, "I Have Confidence", at the line, "I must stop these doubts, all these worries/If I don't, I just know I'll turn back."[17] Maria von Trapp sang "Edelweiss" with Julie Andrews on The Julie Andrews Hour in 1973.

The book was later adapted into The Sound of Music, the successful Broadway musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, which resulted in a popular U.S. motion picture. The Sound of Music, with music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, opened on Broadway in the fall of 1959, starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel. It was a success, running for more than three years. The film version set box office records, and she received about $500,000 ($4.09 million today) in royalties.[5]

Maria's book, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, published in 1949, was a best-seller. It was made into two successful German/Austrian films:

The Sound of Music

Name Birth Death Notes
Rosmarie Erentrudis von Trapp 8 February 1928 or 8 February 1929[9] In Maria's Declaration of Intention of 1 January 1944 and her Petition for Naturalization signed on 26 May 1948, she stated under oath that she was married on 26 November 1927, and that Rosmarie was born on 8 February 1928.[9][15] However Maria used the year 1929 in her book and the year 1929 is used at the family website. Photos from Maria and Georg's wedding (3rd photo page between pages 96 and 97 in "Maria" by Maria von Trapp) show no evidence of a late-term pregnancy at that date, giving credence to the 1929 date, as does the fact that when the family arrived at the United States on 27 September 1939, the ship manifest lists Rosmarie as 10 years old. On the other hand, Maria, in her 1949 book, discusses how clothing can be worn so as to conceal pregnancy. See p. 135 of "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers" (Harper Perennial edition). The best evidence of the year of Rosemary's birth would be a contemporaneous baptismal certificate, which thus far has not been produced for review.
Eleonore von Trapp 14 May 1931 [9] Married Hugh David Campbell in 1954 and had seven daughters with him. Currently lives with her family in Waitsfield, Vermont.[4]
Johannes Georg von Trapp 17 January 1939 [9] Married Lynne Peterson in 1969 and had one son and one daughter with her.[4] He became manager of the family lodge in the 1970s.[16]


The family has won the following awards:[6]

Decorations and awards

Maria von Trapp died of Hedwig von Trapp, Martina von Trapp, Rupert von Trapp, and Werner von Trapp) are interred in the family cemetery at the Lodge.


The family made a series of 78 rpm discs for RCA Victor in the 1950s, some of which were later issued on RCA Camden LPs. There were also a few later recordings released on LPs, including some stereo sessions. The family also made an appearance on an Elvis Presley Christmas record. In 1957, the Trapp Family Singers disbanded and went their separate ways. Maria and three of her children became missionaries in Papua New Guinea. In 1965, Maria had moved back to Vermont to manage the Trapp Family Lodge, which had been named Cor Unum. Maria began turning over management of the Lodge to her only son, Johannes, although she was initially reluctant to do so.[14]

In the 1940s, the family moved to lung cancer.

Maria von Trapp's certificate of arrival into Niagara Falls, New York, on 30 December 1942

Move to the United States

Charles Wagner was their first booking agent, then they signed on with Frederick Christian Schang. Thinking the name "Trapp Family Choir" too churchy, Schang Americanized their repertoire and, following his suggestion, the group changed its name to the "Trapp Family Singers".[8] The family, which by then included ten children, was soon touring the world giving concert performances.[5] Alix Williamson served as the group's publicist for over two decades. After the war, they founded the Trapp Family Austrian Relief fund, which sent food and clothing to people impoverished in Austria.

Preparing for a concert in Boston in 1941.
There was something unusually lovable and appealing about the modest, serious singers of this little family aggregation as they formed a close semicircle about their self-effacing director for their initial offering, the handsome Mme. von Trapp in simple black, and the youthful sisters garbed in black and white Austrian folk costumes enlivened with red ribbons. It was only natural to expect work of exceeding refinement from them, and one was not disappointed in this.[5][13]

Initially calling themselves the "Trapp Family Choir", the von Trapps began to perform in the United States and Canada. They performed in New York City at The Town Hall on 10 December 1938.[5][11][12][13] The New York Times wrote:

After performing at a festival in 1935, they became a popular touring act. They experienced life under the Hitler at a restaurant. In September, the family left Austria and traveled to Italy, and then to the United States. The Nazis made use of their abandoned home as Heinrich Himmler's headquarters.[8]

Soprano Lotte Lehmann heard the family sing, and she suggested they perform at concerts. When the Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg heard them on the radio, he invited them to perform in Vienna.[11]

Early musical career and departure from Austria

In 1935, the Trapps faced financial ruin. Georg had transferred his savings, held until then by a bank in London, to an Austrian bank run by a friend, Frau Lammer. Austria was at the time experiencing economic difficulties during a worldwide depression, because of the Crash of 1929. Lammer's bank failed, and the family faced a financial emergency.[10] To survive, the Trapps sent away most of their servants, moved into the top floor of their home, and rented the empty rooms to students of the Catholic University. The Archbishop sent Father Franz Wasner to stay with them as their chaplain, and thus began their singing career.[8]

Financial problems

[9] Maria and Georg married on 26 November 1927. They had three children together: Rosmarie (born 1928 or 1929), Eleonore ("Lorli") (born 1931), and Johannes (born 1939), who were the others' half-sisters and half-brother. A discrepancy exists for the birth date of their oldest child, Rosmarie. In 1944, Maria, under oath in her

Eventually, Maria began to look after the other children, as well. Georg von Trapp, seeing how much she cared about his children, asked Maria to marry him, although he was 25 years her senior. Frightened, she fled back to Nonnberg Abbey to seek guidance from the Mother Abbess. The Mother Abbess advised Maria that it was God's will that she should marry the Captain; since Maria was taught always to follow God's will, she returned to the family and told the Captain she would marry him. She later wrote in her autobiography that on her wedding day she was blazing mad, both at God and at her husband, because what she really wanted was to be a nun: "I really and truly was not in love. I liked him but didn't love him. However, I loved the children, so in a way I really married the children. I learned to love him more than I have ever loved before or after."[8]

U-5, on the bridge, Georg von Trapp (1915)


[7].scarlet fever His wife, Agatha Whitehead, had died in 1922 from [6]

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