Maria von Trapp, member of musical family, dies at 99


This Aug. 5, 1966, photo shows members of the von Trapp family as they gave a public concert at the family lodge in Stowe, Vt., under the direction of Msgr. Franz Wasner, their chaplain and musical director. Maria von Trapp is third from left. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
February 23

Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member and second-eldest daughter of the musical family whose escape from Nazi-occupied Austria was the basis for “The Sound of Music,” died Feb. 18, at her home in Stowe, Vt. She was 99.

Her death was announced by her half-brother Johannes von Trapp. The cause was not disclosed.

Miss von Trapp was one of the seven original Trapp Family Singers made famous in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music.” She was portrayed as Louisa in the 1959 Broadway musical and a 1965 film, which won the Oscar for best picture.

She was the third child of Austrian naval Capt. Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe Whitehead von Trapp. Their seven children were the basis for the singing family in the musical and film.

“The Sound of Music” was based loosely on a 1949 book by von Trapp’s second wife, also named Maria von Trapp, who died in 1987 and was played by Julie Andrews in the film. It tells the story of an Austrian woman who married a widower with seven children and teaches them music.

In 1938, the family escaped from Nazi-occupied Austria and performed concert tours throughout Europe and then a three-month tour in America. The family settled in Vermont in the early 1940s and opened a ski lodge in Stowe.

Miss von Trapp played accordion and taught Austrian dance with sister Rosmarie at the lodge. She wrote in a biography posted on the Trapp Family Web site that she was born in the Austrian Alps after her family fled fighting from World War I and that she was surrounded by music growing up.

“Father played the violin, accordion and mandolin. Mother played piano and violin,” she wrote. “I have fond memories of our grandmother playing the piano for us after meals.”

Her biography on the Web site also said that she worked as a lay missionary in Papua New Guinea.

Her survivors include two half-sisters, Rosmarie von Trapp and Eleonore von Trapp, and her half-brother, who were born to Georg von Trapp and Maria von Trapp after their marriage in 1927.