Trapp-Kutschera, Maria Augusta, born 26-01-1905 in Vienna and George von, born 04-04-1880, in Zara, Kroatië , on a train en route to Vienna, Austria. Her mother died when she was just two years old. The wife of Captain George Ritter von Trapp, their story was made famous in the musical film, “The Sound of Music” (1965), in which her role was played by Julie Andrews
Her father left her with a cousin, so that he could travel, and she was raised as a socialist and atheist, becoming cynical towards all religions. Her attitude changed while in college, when she entered a crowded church believing she was about to hear a Bach concert, only to find that it was a sermon by a visiting Jesuit priest, Father Kronseder. Caught up in the crowd so that she couldn’t leave, she soon found herself caught up in his words. At the end of his sermon, she grabbed his elbow demanding, “Do you believe all this?” They got together afterwards to discuss religion, and soon she converted to Christianity. In 1924, she entered the Nonnberg Benedictine Convent intending to become a nun, but in 1926, she was sent to become a governess at the home of a widowed retired Austrian Navy Captain, Georg Ritter von Trapp, with seven children from his first wife, Agathe Gobertina Whitehead , oldest Rupert Von Trapp (1911 – 1992), Agathe Johanna Erwina Von Trapp (1913 – 2010) , Werner Von Trapp (1915 – 2007), Hedwig Von Trapp (1917 – 1972), Johanna Von Trapp (1919 – 1994) and Martina Von Trapp Dupire (1921 – 1951). Two years later, Rosemarie was born, and in 1931, Eleonore was born. The Captain’s first wife, Agathe Whitehead, had died of scarlet fever in 1922.
They quickly fell in love, and on 26-11-1927, they married, with Maria becoming the stepmother of his seven children.
They lived in his mansion Schloss Leopoldskron along the river Salzach. During the Great Depression, when the family business failed, Georg started a chicken farm to support his family. In 1936, Maria and family friend Monsignor Franz Matthias Wasner he died age 86 on 21-06-1992, began the Trapp Family Singers, and they soon became well known when they received high honours at the 1936 Salzburg Music Festival. In 1938, Austria and Nazi Germany were united in the Anschluss, Union, at which the von Trapps made little secret that they were horrified at the rise of the Nazis. German dictator Adolph Hitler invited them to sing at his birthday celebration, but they declined. Georg also turned down the offer of a commission in the German Navy. With increased Nazi pressure to embrace the new regime, the family decided to leave Austria for the United States, arriving in early 1939. They initially settled down in Merion, Pennsylvania, where their last child, Johannes von Trapp, was born. In 1942, they purchased the old Gale Farm in Stowe, Vermont, which in 1950 became the Trapp Family Lodge, offering guests sweeping mountain views in an Austrian style main lodge. Georg von Trapp died in May 1947, and Maria became the head of the family. In 1950, at the urging of a family friend, Maria wrote the family story in the book, “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers” (1950), which eventually was turned into the successful Broadway musical by Rogers and Hammerstein (1959), and the movie, “The Sound of Music” (1965). In 1957, the Trapp Family Singers broke up and went their separate ways. Maria and three of her children became missionaries in the South Pacific.
Death and burial ground of Trapp-Kutschera, Maria Augusta and George von
After several years, she returned to Vermont, and managed the Trapp Family Lodge until her death on 28-03-1987, at the age of 82. George von Trapp, born 04-04-1880 in Zara, Croatia, then a part of the Austria-Hungary Empire, in 1894. His father was Augustus Ritter von Trapp (1836-1884),
a commander in the Austrian Naval, who died when George was 4 years old then. George followed his father’s Navy career by entering the naval academy in Fiume. Graduating in 1898, he completed two years of cadet training, including a trip to Australia. While visiting the Marquesas Islands in the Pacific, he fell in love with the islands and always harboured a dream of returning there, even though he never did. In 1900, he was assigned to the cruiser ‘Queen Maria Theresia’ and was decorated for his performance of duty during the Boxer Rebellion in China. Fascinated by submarines, in 1908, he transferred to the newly created U-Boat Division, and in 1910, he was given command of the newly commissioned Austrian submarine U-6.
On 01-03-1912, he married Agathe Whitehead, an Englishwoman; they would have seven children. On 22-04-1915, he took command of the submarine U-5, conducting nine combat patrols, and in October 1915, he was given command of the captured French submarine ‘Curie,’ which was redesigned as the U-14, conducting ten additional war patrols. Overall, he sank 12 cargo ships, totaling 45,670 tons, and two warships, the French cruiser ‘Leon Gambetta’ (12,600 tons) and the Italian submarine ‘Nereide’ (225 tons). In May 1918, he was promoted to Captain and given command of the submarine base on the Gulf of Cattaro. At the end of World War I, he was awarded a knighthood, adding the titles Ritter and von to his family name, and the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Maria Theresia. Settling down in Salzburg, Austria, tragedy struck the family in 1922, when Agathe died of scarlet fever, and he began to raise the family by himself. In 1926, the Mother Abbess of the Nonnberg Benedictine Convent sent novice Maria Augusta Kutschera to be the governess to the children of Captain von Trapp. Very quickly, the two fell in love, and on 26-11-1927, he married Maria,
and she became the stepmother of 7 children. Two years later, Rosemarie von Trapp was born, the first child of Georg and Marie, and in 1931, Eleonore was born. During the Great Depression, when the family business failed, Georg started a chicken farm to support his family. In 1936, Maria and family friend Monsignor Franz Wasner began the Trapp Family Singers, and they soon became well known when they received high honours at the 1936 Salzburg Music Festival.
In 1938, Austria and Nazi Germany were united in the Anschluss, during which Georg made little secret that he was horrified at the rise of the Nazis. German dictator Adolf Hitler invited them to sing at his birthday celebration, but he declined. The Germans also offered Georg a commission as a Captain, with the command of a submarine base; again he refused. With increased Nazi pressure to embrace the new regime, the family decided to leave Austria for the United States. They initially settled down in Merion, Pennsylvania where their last child, son Johannes von Trapp, was born. In 1942, they purchased the old Gale Farm in Stowe, Vermont, which in 1950 became the von Trapp Family Lodge, offering guests sweeping mountain views in an Austrian style main lodge. Unfortunately, Georg Johannes von Trapp died of lung cancer on 30-05-1947, age, in Stowe, Vermont.
In 1950, Maria published the family story in the book, “The Trapp Family Singers” which eventually was turned the movie, “The Sound of Music”.
In 1957, the family broke up professionally and each went his own way. Mary and three of her children became missionaries. Maria later returned to Vermont and kept the Trapp Family Lodge open until her death in 1987. Maria, her husband George and Hedwig von Trapp (1917-1972), the fifth child of Georg and Agathe von Trapp, are buried in the family plot at the Lodge. Son Werner, named Kurt in The Sound of Music, died, aged 91, on 11-10-2007, at his home in Waitsfield, Vermont. Now run by Georg and Maria’s son Johannes, the Lodge is one of Vermont’s
most popular tourist sites and is also a concert venue for the Vermont Mozart Festival. Four great-grandchildren, of Kurt and his wife Erika Klambaue (16-01-1922/18-01-2018), whom he married in 1948, Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and Justin, still perform as the Von Trapp children. Maria’s granddaughter Elisabeth von Trapp is also a singer.
Maria and George von Trapp are buried on the cemetery of Stowe, Lamoille County, Vermont.