Maria von Trapp
|Maria von Trapp|
Photo from Declaration of Intention, 21 January 1944
|Born||Maria Augusta Kutschera
26 January 1905
|Died||28 March 1987
Morrisville, Vermont, USA
|Spouse(s)||Georg Johannes von Trapp (1880–1947) (m. 1927–47)|
|Children||Rosmarie von Trapp (b. 1928) Eleonore von Trapp (b. 1931)
Johannes von Trapp (b. 1939)
Maria Augusta von Trapp (born Maria Augusta Kutschera, 26 January 1905 – 28 March 1987), was the stepmother and matriarch of the Trapp Family Singers. Her story served as the inspiration for a 1956 German film that in turn inspired the Broadway musical The Sound of Music and subsequently the 1965 blockbuster film The Sound of Music.
Maria was born on 26 January 1905 aboard a train heading from her parents' village in Tyrol to a hospital in Vienna, Austria. She was an orphan by her seventh birthday and graduated from the State Teachers College for Progressive Education in Vienna at the age of eighteen, in 1923. She entered Nonnberg Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Salzburg, as a postulant intending to become a nun. Maria, in her 1949 book, describes herself as a fifth grade school teacher and a postulant. A postulant is a person who is merely requesting admission to the novitiate. The request may or may not be granted. While still a school teacher there, she was asked to teach one of the seven children of widowed naval commander Georg Johannes von Trapp after his first wife, Agatha Whitehead Von Trapp. Agatha had died from scarlet fever.
Eventually, Maria began to look after the other children as well and the Captain, seeing how much she cared about the children, asked Maria to marry him. Scared, Maria fled back to Nonnberg to ask guidance from the Mother Abbess. She told Maria that it was God's will that she should marry the Captain and 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."
Maria and Georg married on 26 November 1927. They had three children together: Rosemarie (born 1928 or 1929), Eleanor (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 Rosemarie. In 1944 Maria, under oath in her Declaration of Intention for naturalization, gave the date of the marriage as 26 November 1927 and the date of her first child's birth as 8 February 1928. This would indicate she was pregnant at the time of their marriage, and she would give birth just 2 months and 14 days after her marriage. She confirmed both the marriage and birth date in her Petition for Naturalization, signed under oath, on 26 May 1948. The Trapp family disputes the 1928 date and Maria used the year 1929 in her book.
In 1935, Trapp found herself financially ruined. She had transferred her savings, held until then by a bank in London, to an Austrian bank run by a friend named Mrs. 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.
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 they started singing.
Early musical career
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.
After performing at a festival in 1935, they became a popular touring act. They experienced life under the Nazis after the annexation of Austria by Germany in March 1938. Life became increasingly difficult as they witnessed hostility towards Jewish children by their classmates, the use of children against their parents, the advocacy of abortion by both Maria's doctor and by her son's school, and finally by the induction of Georg into the German Navy. They visited Munich in the summer and encountered Hitler at a restaurant. In September the family fled Austria and traveled to Italy and then to the United States. Their home was confiscated by the Nazis.
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. The New York Times wrote:
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.
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". The family, which by then included ten children, was soon touring the world giving concert performances. 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.
Move to the United States
In the 1940s, the family moved to Stowe, Vermont, where they ran a music camp when they were not touring. In 1944, Maria and her stepdaughters Johanna, Martina, Maria, Hedwig, and Agathe applied for U.S. citizenship. Georg never applied to become a citizen. Rupert and Werner became citizens by serving during World War II. Rosmarie and Eleonore became citizens by virtue of their mother's citizenship. Johannes was born in the United States in September 1939 during a concert tour in Philadelphia.
Georg von Trapp died in 1947 in Vermont from lung cancer.
The Trapp 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 the South Pacific.
In 1965, Maria had moved back to Vermont to manage the Trapp Family Lodge, which had been named Cor Unum. Maria also began to turn over management of the Lodge to her only son, Johannes von Trapp, although, at first, she was reluctant to do so.
Maria von Trapp died of heart failure on March 28, 1987, in Morrisville, Vermont, three days after an operation. Maria, her husband Georg, Hedwig von Trapp, and Martina von Trapp are interred in the family cemetery at the Lodge.
Decorations and awards
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2013)|
- 1949: Benemerenti Medal (Pope Pius XII), in recognition of the benefits of the Trapp Family Austrian Relief for needy Austrians
- 1952: Dame of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (Vatican-Pope Pius XII)
- 1956: Catholic Mother of the Year in the United States. Women receive this honorary title, to recognise exemplary behavior
- 1957: Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria
- 1962: Siena Medal - an award given by Theta Phi Alpha women's fraternity to "an outstanding woman to recognize her for her endurance and great accomplishment." The medal is the highest honor the organization bestows upon a non-member and is named after Saint Catherine of Siena.
- 1967: Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class
- 2007: The Trapp Family in Braunau am Inn received the Egon Ranshofen Wertheimer Prize
- 2012: Naming of Maria Trapp-Platz in Donaustadt (22nd District of Vienna)
|Rosmarie von Trapp||8 February 1928 or 1929 ||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. However Maria used the year 1929 in her book and the year 1929 is used at the Von Trapp 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.|
|Eleonore von Trapp||14 May 1931 ||Married Hugh David Campbell in 1954 and had seven daughters with him. Currently lives with her family in Waitsfield, Vermont.|
|Johannes von Trapp||17 January 1939 ||Married Lynne Peterson in 1969 and had one son and one daughter with her. He became manager of the family lodge in the 1970s.|
The Sound of Music
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 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 ($4.05 million today) in royalties. Maria von Trapp makes 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." Maria Von Trapp sang "Edelweiss" with Julie Andrews on The Julie Andrews Hour in 1973.
- 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)
- Gearin, Joan. "The Real Story of the von Trapp Family". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 2009-01-05. "Maria Kutschera and Georg von Trapp married in 1927. They had three children together: Rosmarie, 1928– ; Eleonore, 1931– ; and Johannes, 1939–."
- "Maria Augusta Kutschera von Trapp". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2011-01-09. "Maria Augusta Kutschera (b. Jan. 26, 1905, Vienna—d. March 28, 1987, Morrisville, Vt., U.S.), the best-known member of the family, wrote The Story of the Trapp Family Singers (1949). She recounted her experience as an orphan and novitiate in a Benedictine convent in Salzburg. As a governess, she won the hearts of the seven children of a widower, Freiherr (Baron)..."
- "Tribute to Baron von Trapp Joined by Country He Fled". New York Times. July 14, 1997. Retrieved 2011-01-08. "The ceremonies ended today in a morning Mass, at which the cadets stood watch during a performance of Franz Schubert's Deutsche Messe, then laid a wreath at the grave of Baron and Baroness von Trapp, who were portrayed by Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews in the 1965 film The Sound of Music. ... The six surviving children are Eleonore Campbell, Rosmarie Trapp and Maria, Werner, Johannes and Agathe von Trapp, all of whom live in the United States."
- Peter Kerr (29 March 1987). "Maria von Trapp, Whose Life was 'Sound of Music', is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-21. "Maria Augusta von Trapp, the guiding force behind a family of singers who won world renown when their story was portrayed in the play and film The Sound of Music, died of heart failure yesterday in Morrisville, Vt., three days after undergoing surgery. She was eighty-two years old, and had lived in Stowe, Vermont, for more than forty years. She still lives on through her only son, Johannes, of Stowe; two daughters, Eleanor Campbell of Waitsfield, Vermont, and Rosemarie Trapp of Pittsburgh; two stepsons, Rupert, of Stowe, and Werner, of Waitsfield; three stepdaughters, Agathe von Trapp of Glyndon, Maryland, Maria F. Trapp of Papua, New Guinea, and Johanna von Trapp of San Diego, and by twenty-nine grandchildren."
- "Family Choir". Time magazine. December 19, 1938. Retrieved 2011-01-07. "When Soprano Lotte Lehmann heard them, she suggested concerts. When Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg heard them over the radio, he invited them to sing in Vienna. Soon the von Trapps were touring the whole map of Europe."
- Trapp, Maria Augusta (1953). The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. ISBN 978-0-385-02896-7. "After Armistice day when the boys [Maria's sons] were still in Europe, they had gone for a short visit to Salzburg and found that our old home there had been confiscated by Heinrich Himmler; that it had been made his headquarters for the last period of that cruel war; that the chapel had been turned into a beer parlour; and what had been Father Wasner's room had become Hitler's quarters when he came there."
- It should be noted, however, that the "seven young singing von Trapps" ranged in age from 16 to 27 and were not young children.
- "Group Heard in Choral Works of Five Centuries in Its First Appearance Here". New York Times. December 11, 1938. Retrieved 2009-01-05. "An intriguing array of choral selections, culled from the music of the last five centuries, and representative works for the early vertical flutes known as recorders, was presented by the Trapp Family Choir at their first New York concert given yesterday afternoon at Town Hall."
- Trapp, Maria Augusta (1972). Maria: Maria Von Trapp, My Own Story. ISBN 0-902088-43-2. "Like many other parents who have been leaders for a very long time, I simply didn't know how to step down without bitterness and reproaches ... There I found myself in the middle of a generation gap."
- "Petition for Naturalization for Maria von Trapp". Immigration and Naturalization Service via NARA. May 26, 1948. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
- "Declaration of Intention of Maria Von Trapp's". Immigration and Naturalization Service via NARA. January 21, 1944. Retrieved 09-05-2011.
- Clifford, Stephanie (December 24, 2008). "Von Trapps Reunited, Without the Singing". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-26. "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."
- Anderson, William (1998). The World of the Trapp Family. Anderson Publications. ISBN 1-890757-00-4.
- History of the Trapp Family from the Trapp Family Lodge web site
- Site for the Von Trapp great-grandchildren