What have I be reading?

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

I have watched the "Sound of Music" many times and I thought I knew the story - after reading Maria's life story, I realise I didn't really now much at all.

Here are some facts:

  • Maria went to the Von Trapp household to care for only one child (Maria) who had been sick with scarlet fever.
  • Maria did encourage the children to sing, but no "Do Ra Me" or "Climb Every Mountain", rather hymns and other classical music.
  • The Von Trapps had 10 children, three were Maria's children
  • They climbed no mountains when leaving Austria - they caught a train to Italy. The Baron wasn't being chased by the Nazis.
  • Before they leave Austria, the Baron lost all his money due to financial collapse, they were poor before they sailed to the USA.
  • From the time the Baron and Maria marries (1927) to the war is around 10 years - in this time Maria has 2 children.
  • Instead of the fictional Max Detweiler, pushy music promoter, the von Trapps' priest, the Reverend Franz Wasner, acted as their musical director for over 20 years. He moved the USA with the family.
The clear image of Maria, is of a woman with determination and optimist, but most of all with a very strong faith, a faith that she uses to get the whole family through some very tough battles, most of all the years of poverty in a foreign country they struggled to understand.  She did though have a bad temper, described by one of her daughters as being like a thunderstorm.

Sadly Baron Von Trapp dies in 1947, not that many years in the USA.  He was aged 67. Maria died in 1987 aged 82.

It is a book worth reading to discover the true story of the Von Trapp family - far better than the movie. 

Maria taken in 1944 "Declaration of Intention form"

What happened to the children?  

In 1956, Maria, Johannes, Rosmarie, and daughter Maria went to New Guinea to do missionary work.

Rupert was a medical doctor
Agathe was kindergarten teacher in Maryland
Werner was a farmer
Hedwig taught music
Johanna married and eventually returned to live in Austria
Martina married and died in childbirth
Rosmarie and Eleonore both settled in Vermont
Johannes managed the Trapp Family Lodge.



  1. Jo: It's wonderful, isn't it? I read this in high school & was so shocked at the liberties the movie took. I have been looking for a copy for my Star, who loves the movie.

    Surprisingly that never made a movie of the music career the family developed in the U.S.

  2. Gareida - it would be wonderful if moviemakers made real Von Trapp story - which is far more interesting than the musical. Their move to the USA and all the struggles they faced is an inspiration to others. Maria was such a gusty woman, much stronger than portrayed by Julie Andrews.

    I bought my copy from http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/

    (free postage)

  3. What a fascinating story! Too bad the movie takes so so many liberties to change stories to suit them... It is true that often true life is far more interesting than the movies - which are very unrealistic often anyway!

  4. When I wrote this yesterday I hadn't finished the last chapter - I thought you all might be interested to know that the home the Von Trapps had in Austra was used by Himmler and Hilter would stay there. Due to this the Von Trapps sold the property and it is now the Saint Joseph's Seminary. With the money the Von Trapps were finally able to pay all their debts and mortgage. Interesting.

  5. I have had that on a list for ages. Must chase it up.
    It is hard to imagine the mild mannered Ms Andrews with a temper like a thunderstorm, isn't it?!

  6. I'd heard the same that the real life story was quite different to a lot of the movie, though I must say I still love the movie, it's one of my favourites!

  7. Wow, the movie is nothing like the real story, is it? I agree the book sounds like a much more inspiring story.

    One thing I really liked about the movie (besides the cheerful music) though is how Captain Von Trapp is the obvious head of the family.--He even comes right out and says it towards the end of the movie when they are trying escape and end up going and singing as a family at the concert. You don't see that in modern movies or if you do it is not presented in a positive way.


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