Maria von Trapp, 99; last surviving member of musical family

The Trapp family (with Maria third from left) performed a concert at their family lodge in Stowe, Vt., in 1966.
Associated Press
The Trapp family (with Maria third from left) performed a concert at their family lodge in Stowe, Vt., in 1966.

STOWE, Vt. — Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member and second-eldest daughter of the musical family whose escape from Nazi-occupied Austria was the basis for ‘‘The Sound of Music,’’ has died. She was 99.

Ms. Von Trapp died at her home in Vermont on Tuesday, according to her brother Johannes.

‘‘She was a lovely woman who was one of the few truly good people,’’ he said. ‘‘There wasn’t a mean or miserable bone in her body. I think everyone who knew her would agree with that.’’


Maria von Trapp was the last surviving member of the seven original Trapp Family Singers made famous in ‘‘The Sound of Music.’’ She was portrayed as Louisa in the 1959 Broadway musical and a 1965 film, which won the Oscar for best picture.

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She was the third child and second-oldest daughter of Austrian Naval Captain Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe Whitehead von Trapp. Their seven children were the basis for the singing family in the musical and film.

‘‘The Sound of Music’’ was based loosely on a 1949 book by von Trapp’s second wife, also Maria von Trapp, who died in 1987. It tells the story of an Austrian woman who married a widower with seven children and teaches them music.

In 1938, the family escaped from Nazi-occupied Austria and performed concert tours throughout Europe and then a three-month tour in America. The family settled in Vermont in the early 1940s and opened a ski lodge in Stowe. Ms. Von Trapp played accordion and taught Austrian dance with her sister Rosmarie at the lodge.

She wrote in a biography posted on the Trapp Family’s website that she was born in the Austrian Alps after her family fled fighting from World War I and that she was surrounded by music growing up.


‘‘Father played the violin, accordion, and mandolin. Mother played piano and violin,’’ she wrote. ‘‘I have fond memories of our grandmother playing the piano for us after meals.’’

Her biography on the website also said that she worked as a lay missionary in Papua, New Guinea.