Maria von Trapp: Last of the Trapp Family Singers dies.

Last of the Sound of Music Von Trapps Dies at 99

Last of the Sound of Music Von Trapps Dies at 99

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Feb. 23 2014 10:39 AM

So Long, Farewell: Last of the Sound of Music Von Trapps Dies at 99

trapp_family_singers_1941
Promotional photo of the Trapp Family Singers taken in 1941

Wikimedia/Metropolitan Music Bureau, New York. Photo by Larry Gordon.

Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member of the Trapp Family Singers, whose story inspired the Sound of Music has died. The second-eldest daughter of the musical family died on Tuesday in Stowe, Vt. of natural causes at age 99, reports the Associated Press. Maria, who was portrayed as Louisa in the Broadway musical and film, was the third child of Austrian Naval Capt. Georg Johannes von Trapp and Agathe Whitehead von Trapp, who had seven children. After the death of Baron von Trapp’s first wife, Maria Kutschera was hired to teach the children. But the aspiring nun ended up falling in love and marrying von Trapp in 1927 and wrote a 1949 book that ended up becoming the loose inspiration for the musical.

The von Trapp family escaped Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938 and never returned from a concert tour in the United States, where they settled in Vermont and opened a ski lodge.  

mariafranziskavontrapp
Photo from Maria von Trapp's Declaration of Intention form to become a U.S. citizen

Wikimedia commons

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"It was a surprise that she was the one in the family to live the longest because ever since she was a child she suffered from a weak heart,” family friend Marianne Dorfer who runs the von Trapp Villa Hotel in Salzburg, told the Austrian Times. “It was the fact that she suffered from this that her father decided to hire Maria von Trapp to teach her and her brothers and sisters. That of course then led to one of the most remarkable musical partnerships of the last century."

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.