Maria von Trapp, who has died aged 99, was the last of the original Trapp Family Singers, whose story was the inspiration for the Broadway show and hugely successful 1965 film, The Sound of Music.
Maria Franziska von Trapp, Austrian folk singer and lay missionary.
Born September 14 1914; died February 18 2014
- From The Telegraph.
The Von Trapps were an aristocratic Austrian family headed by the decorated naval officer Baron Georg von Trapp and his wife, Agathe. In the wake of Baroness von Trapp's death in 1922 the family moved to a villa in Aigen in the suburbs of Salzburg and Maria Augusta Kutschera a young postulent — a woman preparing for a nun's life — from the nearby Nonnberg Abbey, was appointed as tutor to the seven Von Trapp children. She was to become the Baron's second wife (played in the film by Julie Andrews).
In the mid-1930s the family's finances were made precarious by the Baron's investment in a bank which would later fail. Hardened circumstances caused the Von Trapps to stage paid choral concerts (previously a family hobby) with Maria Von Trapp singing second soprano in the choir.
With the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938, Baron von Trapp was offered a commission in the German Navy. An ardent anti-Nazi he refused and decided to flee the country with his entire family. Not, as Hollywood immortalised their journey, overnight across the
Alps to Switzerland but by train to Italy in broad daylight before taking a passage to America.
Maria Franziska Gobertina von Trapp was born on September 14 1914, in Salzburg the third child of Georg and Agathe Von Trapp. Since personal telegrammes were not permitted to be sent to those serving in the military, her father learnt of the birth by a message from his wife in pre-arranged code: "S.M.S Maria arrived".
Music was an integral part of her family's life. "My father played the violin and the accordion, and I adored him - I wanted to learn all the instruments that he played," recalled Maria von Trapp late in life (she would play the accordion for the rest of her life).
In The Sound of Music, Maria von Trapp was portrayed as the character "Louisa" by the Canadian actress Heather Menzies-Urich (in her debut role). On the film's release, Maria and her siblings were surprised by the level of dramatic licence taken in bringing their story to the screen. "We were all pretty shocked at how they portrayed our father, he was so completely different. He always looked after us a lot, especially after our mother died," said Maria von Trapp. "You have to separate yourself from all that, and you have to get used to it. It is something you simply cannot avoid."
Read full Obituary: Maria von Trapp - obituary (The Telegraph)