Remembering Maria von Trapp, The Last of the Singing von Trapp Siblings (1915-2014)

Maria von Trapp (third from the left in the right picture) died last February 18 at the age of 99. She was the last of the singing siblings immortalized in the movie The Sound of Music.

Maria von Trapp (third from the left in the right picture) died last February 18 at the age of 99. She was the last of the singing siblings immortalized in the movie The Sound of Music.
Maria von Trapp (third from the left in the right picture) died last February 18 at the age of 99. She was the last of the singing siblings immortalized in the movie The Sound of Music.

Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member of the singing von Trapp siblings immortalized in the movie The Sound of Music has passed away last February 18 at the ripe age of 99.

According to her half-brother, Maria von Trapp died in her Vermont home with her death attributed to natural causes.

Maria von Trapp, an Austrian native, was the third child from the oldest of Captain Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe Whitehead. The couple had seven children together – Rupert, Agathe, Maria, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna and Martina.

Agathe died and the captain eventually remarried his children’s tutor, Maria Kutschera von Trapp. She was the one who wrote the book about the family entitled The Story of the Trapp Family Singers which spawned two movies made in Germany and of course, the famous Sound of Music.

The play based on the von Trapp Family’s story, The Sound of Music, opened in Broadway on 1959. Come 1965, a film adaptation was born with Julie Andrews playing the part of the teacher whom Georg married later, Maria. It was undeniably Miss Andrews’ most famous role. On the other hand, Christopher Plummer was the one who portrayed Baron von Trapp’s character. The movie went on to win five Academy Awards including the highest accolade – best picture.

Both Agathe and Captain Georg, the parents of Maria von Trapp, were very exceptional musicians. Her mother played the violin and the piano while her father was a violin, mandolin and accordion virtuoso.

“Sometimes our house must have sounded like a musical conservatory. You could hear us practice piano, violin, guitar, cello, clarinet, accordion, and later, recorders. We would gather in the evenings to play Viennese folksongs on our instruments with Father leading on the violin,” Maria von Trapp wrote in her biography found in the website of the Trapp Family Lodge.

When Agathe von Trapp died from Scarlet fever in 1922, Maria von Trapp suffered from it, too, which was why she needed to be tutored at home. The tutor was Maria Kutschera whom Captain Georg married on 1927.

The von Trapp sisters with their stepmother, Baroness Maria von Trapp (front center). The younger Maria von Trapp is in the center row, left.
The von Trapp sisters with their stepmother, Baroness Maria von Trapp (front center). The younger Maria von Trapp is in the center row, left.

The couple went on to have three more children – Rosmarie, Eleonore and Johannes. The Trapps then fled Austria which was occupied by the Nazis in 1938. They went and moved to the United States.

Maria von Trapp went on to become a lay missionary in Papua New Guinea. She never did got married.

The whole family had bought a 27-room family home in Stowe in 1950 after travelling the world. It became their permanent home. However, the building was destroyed by fire 30 years later. It was rebuilt into what is now known as the Trapp Family Lodge. According to the lodge’s website, it is presently owned and operated by the remaining members of the Trapp Family.

CNN reports

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE