Almanac: Maria von Trapp

An undated photo of the von Trapp family. Courtesy the von Trapp family

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: January 26th, 1905, 109 years ago today . . . Day One of a journey that led from Austria to Broadway to Hollywood.

For that was the day Maria Augusta Kutschera was born on a train bound for Vienna.

Orphaned at age seven, Maria studied to be a teacher before entering a convent in Salzburg.

In 1926, she was assigned to tutor the bedridden daughter of a widower and former naval captain, Georg von Trapp.

Maria von Trapp Johannes von Trapp.jpg
Courtesy of the von Trapp family

What happened next inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "The Sound of Music" . . . first on the stage with Mary Martin, then on the screen with Julie Andrews.

Not that the musical stuck strictly to reality.

Maria and Georg DID marry, but years earlier than in the show. 

The musical changed the names of the seven children from von Trapp's first marriage . . . and never mentioned the three children Maria later bore.

Another difference: the von Trapp family was singing publicly for years before the German takeover of Austria.

And forget about climbing every mountain! When they fled the Nazis, they didn't hike across the Alps into Switzerland -- they took the train to Italy.

By the early 1940s, the Von Trapp family arrived in the United States, and eventually established a family ski lodge in Stowe, Vermont.

Georg von Trapp died in 1947, but Maria lived to see her story re-told in musical form.

And in 1973, Maria von Trapp even got a chance to teach proper yodeling to Julie Andrews on her ABC variety show.

Maria von Trapp died in 1987 . . . but the songs her life story inspired echo still.


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