Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Memories of Maria von Trapp by a 'Sound of Music' Great-Grandchild

Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member of the seven original Trapp Family Singers, the vocal group made famous by the musical "The sound of music songs of Music," passed away on Tuesday at the age of 99. Speakeasy asked a current member of the Trapp family singers to reflect on Maria's passing.

Our great aunt Maria, sister of my grandfather Werner von Trapp, was the last to pass away of the original seven von Trapp Children on Tuesday Feb 18 th 2014. We will miss her cheerful spirit and infectious laugh. She was portrayed as Louisa from "The Sound Of Music."

Maria was taken from school because she was diagnosed with scarlet fever at a young age. Our great grandfather George von Trapp (a war hero in the Austrian Navy) asked a Salzburg abbey to provide a tutor to take care of the younger Maria. This tutor was none other Maria Kutschera who later became Maria von Trapp, stepmother to the seven children.

Aunt Maria recovered from the fever with a very cheerful disposition, even during troubling times. We remember hearing when her family was no longer able to afford servants, aunt Maria proclaimed "Hurrah! Now we can do our own dishes!"

She toured with her singing family as alto for 20 years all over the world. She was loved dearly by her family was called by the enduring nickname of "Mitzi." I remember my Aunt Agatha say that one of aunt Maria's jobs would be making sandwiches for the family while they were on their bus tours.

The family stopped singing in 1956. Maria's strong faith compelled her to contact a mission in Papua New Guinea, where she served as a missionary for 30 years. When she spoke of those years she would get her signature twinkle in her eye. She then returned to Stowe, Vermont full of joy and with an adopted son named Kikuli Mwanukuzi. Kikuli took great care of her till she passed away.

When the four of us were small Aunt Maria would come visit us in Montana always bringing her accordion. She would teach us Austrian folk songs and how to dance the Landler. In 2008 she translated over 40 Austrian children's songs that she asked us to record for her children's songbook.

Our great aunt Maria influenced everyone she met with such love, joy, and cheerfulness. We can speak for the many who will miss her dearly, especially her humor and her "Mitzi laugh."

Sofia von Trapp is a great-granddaughter of Capt. Georg von Trapp. She performs with her siblings, August, Amanda and Melanie, as the von Trapps. They recently collaborated with the band Pink Martini on "Dream a Little Dream," due March 4.

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