How The von Trapp Family Became Famous...


...and discover what this amazing family are doing now



Without the real von Trapp Family, there would be no Sound of Music, as the movie was based on this family’s extraordinary life.



Young Maria
We could start The Sound of Music true story with the real Maria von Trapp, then Maria Augusta Kutschera, who was born on a train going to Vienna. She became an orphan at a young age, and was brought up by a distant relative. Maria later went to teacher training college, after which she joined The Roman Catholic Benedictine Abbey of Nonnberg in Salzburg. This is where the Sound of Music starts the story of Maria’s life…..

Baron Georg von TrappGeorg Ritter von Trapp, recently widowed with seven children, Rupert, Agathe, Maria, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna and Martina, needed a governess for one of his children, also called Maria, who was weak with rheumatic fever. The Baron, a retired captain in the Austrian Navy, approached the Reverend Mother of the Abbey for help. She decided to send Maria to the von Trapp Family, who were living in a beautiful country house in Aigen, on the outskirts of Salzburg. It is now known as the Trapp Villa. In 2008 it was converted into a hotel (below right). If you are interested in staying at the Trapp Villa Hotel, click here to find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

Trapp Villa HotelMaria soon fell in love with all the von Trapp children, and then later with the Baron himself. They married on November 26th 1927. Over the next few years Maria von Trapp and her husband had three more children, Rosemarie, Eleonore and Johannes.

Unfortunately, Captain von Trapp lost much of his wealth in a banking crash during the worldwide depression of the early 1930s. To help their financial situation, the family von Trapp rented out spare rooms in their house.


Father WasnerOne person who came to stay was Father Franz Wasner. He became a life long family friend, and with his help (he was a fine musician) found that their musical talent could provide them with an income. He left Austria with the family, and became their arranger, composer and conducter, right through to 1958. They toured as The von Trapp Family Choir, performing around Europe and America. The photo above right, taken in 1942, shows Father Wasner and the choir. The instrument is a spinet, a type of harpsichord. Maria has always said that she was happy that they had lost their money, so the children could let their true characters shine through.


However Touring Trappsin 1938, to escape from Nazi occupied Austria, the von Trapps travelled by train to Italy, and then to New York, leaving behind everyone they knew and all the possessions they owned. It was in America that they made a new life for themselves, and bought a piece of land on top of Luce Hill, in Stowe, Vermont. The wonderful landscape of Vermont reminded them of their beloved Austria.Trapp Bus Here they set up home, but still toured throughout America and thirty other countries, under the name of The Von Trapp Family Singers.

They became very popular and The Trapp Family Singers made many records in the 1950s as well as performing live in concert. They also made an appearance on an Elvis Presley Christmas record. The group formally disbanded in 1955 after seventeen exhausting years touring and more than two thousand concerts.


Entertaining is still very much part of The Von Trapp family’s life today….Elisabeth, a grand daughter of Maria and Georg is a wonderful singer, songwriter and pianist who performs and records her own music.

“Elisabeth von Trapp is a rare performer, classically trained and devoid of gimmicks who defies classification”.

Justin, Amanda, Melanie and Sofia, great grandchildren of Baron von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe von Trapp, have formed a singing group called J.A.M.S., although they are commonly known as The von Trapp Children.

Read about another of the von Trapp's great-grandchildren, Marc von Trapp, who had a memorial built in his memory at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, where he was studying.


The von Trapp’s Family home in Vermont is now a 2,400 acre resort known as The von Trapp Family Lodge. It is one of Vermont’s most popular tourist destinations, offering wonderfully comfortable accommodation in the traditional Austrian style. The Trapp Lodge is still owned and managed by members of the von Trapp family themselves.


It was Maria von Trapp who decided to sit down and write an account of her life in a book called The Story of the Trapp Family Singers.

“If you love The Sound of Music, this book is a must read”

It sold very well but later the film rights were sold to a German Producer for a modest fee. The von Trapps did not make much money out of this agreement.Die Trapp Familie

Two films, Die Trapp Familie in 1956 and Die Trapp Familie in Amerika in 1958 subsequently followed. Die Trapp Familie contains Austrian folk songs that the real von Trapps actually performed. The book was later adapted for the Broadway stage show, and then was made into the very successful movie, The Sound of Music.

“The movie was a wonderful story” Maria von Trapp (daughter)




Return to The Sound of Music Home Page from The von Trapp Family


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