Little Bits of History

The Hills Are Alive

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 26, 2010

Maria and Georg von Trapp

January 26, 1905: Maria Augusta Kutschera von Trapp is born. Maria was born on a train heading toward a hospital in Vienna. By her seventh birthday, she was an orphan. She graduated from a Teachers College by age 18. She started out her adult life studying to be a nun in a convent in Salzburg, Austria. She was asked to nurse naval commander Georg Ritter von Trapp, a widower with seven children, back to health as well as to teach his children. The two fell in love and were married in 1927 when she was 22 and he was 47.

The commander lost his fortune in the Great Depression so the family turned their love of music into their career. Georg was a wealthy man with money safely in London banks. But Austria was under economic pressure due to hostilities with Germany. The money was moved to help a friend and placed in Lammer’s bank. The bank immediately failed and the family became poverty stricken overnight. They performed at a festival in 1935 and became a popular touring act.

After the Nazi annexation of Austria, the family, now with all nine children, managed to continue to tour. They continued to entertain in Scandinavia and eventually made their way to America residing in Stowe, Vermont where they began a music camp. The final von Trapp child was born in 1939 while they were temporarily living in Merion, Pennsylvania. Today, five of the children are still alive.

Maria’s friend kept encouraging – maybe even hounding – von Trapp, to write her story. Maria kept demurring until she finally scribbled a few pages to prove that she had no talent for writing. However, it only proved that she could write and her tale became The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, or as we know it from the movies, The Sound of Music.

“When a singer truly feels and experiences what the music is all about, the words will automatically ring true.” – Monserrat Caballé

“Being on tour is like being in limbo. It’s like going from nowhere to nowhere.” – Bob Dylan

“If a thing isn’t worth saying, you sing it.” – Pierre Beaumarchais

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” – Aldous Huxley

Also on this day, in 1988 The Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway in NYC.

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  1. […] on this day: The Hills Are Alive – In 1905, Maria von Trapp was born. The Phantom of the Opera – In 1988, The Phantom of […]

  2. Anonymous said, on February 21, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    This photo is not of Maria and Georg von Trapp of the Trapp Family Singers, who inspired The Sound of Music. They’re photos are easy enough to find, I wonder the reason this author chose not to actually use one. Sad, really.


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