Maria Von Trapp, Inspiration for 'Sound of Music,' Dies at 99
2/22/2014 by THR staff
Maria Franziska (nee Von Trapp), the last surviving sibling of the storied Von Trapp family, has died. She was 99.
Marianne Dorfer, a family friend who runs the von Trapp Villa Hotel in Salzburg, Austria confirmed the news to the Austrian Times, saying "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. 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."
Maria Franziska, born in 1914, was the second-eldest daughter of Georg Johannes von Trapp. After the death of her mother, Baron von Trapp would fall in love with and marry the woman he'd hired to teach his children. Along with her family, Maria Franziska fled her home in Salzburg when the Nazis invaded. One of seven brothers and sisters, she toured the United States and Europe as part of a family choir, and eventually inspired the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
The family moved to Vermont in 1942, and built a farmhouse where they took in boarders. On a post on the Trapp Family Lodge's website, Maria Franziska recalled her youth, and meeting the woman who would become her father's second wife: "As a result of scarlet fever, I was too sickly to walk the three miles to school every day, and the doctor advised that I stay home. This condition brought Maria Augusta Kutschera to teach me first grade gymnasium, the equivalent of middle school. She came to us as my teacher and after three years became our second mother."
Julie Andrews starred as Maria, Franziska's eventual stepmother in the 1965 film, with Christopher Plummer Baron von Trapp. NBC revived the story for The Sound of Music Live last year.
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