Werner von Trapp, 91; Musician, Singer in 'Sound of Music' Family

By Wilson Ring
Associated Press
Sunday, October 14, 2007

Werner von Trapp, 91, a member of the musical family made famous by the 1965 movie "The Sound of Music," died Oct. 11 at his home in Waitsfield, Vt. The cause of death was not reported.

"The Sound of Music" was based loosely on a 1949 book by his stepmother, Maria von Trapp, who died in 1987. It tells the story of an Austrian woman who married a widower with seven children and taught them music.

Born in 1915 in Zell am See, Austria, Mr. von Trapp was the fourth child and second son of Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe Whitehead. In the "The Sound of Music," Werner von Trapp was depicted by the character named Kurt.

During the 1930s, Mr. von Trapp studied cello and became proficient on several other instruments. He sang tenor with his family's choir, the Trapp Family Singers, who won great acclaim across Europe after their debut in 1935.

In 1938, von Trapp and his family escaped from Nazi-occupied Austria. After they arrived in New York, they became popular with concert audiences. The family eventually settled in Vermont.

During World War II, Mr. von Trapp served in Europe with the U.S. Army.

After the war, he returned to his family's farm in Stowe, Vt., and resumed touring with the family choir.

After the Trapp Family Singers retired, Mr. von Trapp helped to found a music school in Reading, Pa., called the Community School of Music.

Several years later, he brought his family back to Vermont and eventually settled on a dairy farm in Waitsfield, where he farmed until he retired in 1979. He spent the years after his retirement traveling, weaving, spinning and crocheting.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Erika von Trapp of Waitsfield; six children; three sisters; and a brother.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company