The Story of the Trapp Family Singers

by Maria A Trapp

Paperback, 2001



Call number

ML421 .T7


William Morrow Paperbacks (2001), Edition: 1, 320 pages


With nearly 1,500 Broadway performances, six Tony Awards, more than three million albums sold, and five Academy Awards, The Sound of Music, based on the lives of Maria, the baron, and their singing children, is as familiar to most of us as our own family history. But much about the real-life woman and her family was left untold. Here, Baroness Maria Augusta Trapp tells in her own beautiful, simple words the extraordinary story of her romance with the baron, their escape from Nazi-occupied Austria, and their life in America. Now with photographs from the original edition.

User reviews

LibraryThing member JoolzMac
`The Story Of The Trapp Family Singers' spans roughly the quarter century from the mid 1920s up to the end of the 1940s and is divided into 2 parts. Part 1 [the first 110 pages or so] roughly covers the period between Maria leaving Nonnberg monastery to join the Trapp family and closing with the momentous decision to leave Austria at the outbreak of war, incorporating her marriage, the family's loss of fortune and the start of their singing career. Part 2 picks up the story as they approach New York and goes on to describe 10 years of their lives as a professional singing group, settling down in Vermont, the death of the captain and the establishment of what would become the Trapp Family Lodge ski resort.

It is probably reasonable to assume that almost anyone showing an interest in this book does so because of a desire to learn of the background to `The Sound Of Music`. In many ways the musical is faithful to the book, at least in essence, though don't be surprised to learn that a great deal of invention was employed, especially with the children who bear little relation to their real life counterparts. The main complaint is in the film's depiction of Georg as cold and aloof, something the family has been at pains to contradict ever since!

Much like the musical, the book has a high `feel good' factor: it is infused with a rosy glow of goodness and warmth in which there is little room for negativity, and even less for any complaint or criticism, despite sudden reverses of fortune. Don`t expect any dirty linen to be aired here! Maria's easy-going prose style is wonderfully fluid and accomplished: it gladdens, it saddens, and sometimes it amuses, but always it enchants.

Progressively, the reader becomes aware that the young free-spirited guitar-toting novitiate has become a strong and formidable woman capable of leading a large family, and perhaps dominating the captain who quickly recedes to a background role. It is clearly her drive and determination, and sheer force of character, that enabled the family to achieve almost the impossible, and was probably responsible for holding it together for so long.

The book is liberally festooned with descriptions of the family's religious rituals and Maria's own faith as a devout Catholic, which can appear `preachy` at times. Some readers may find these aspects a touch excessive, yet it is part-and-parcel of the lady's character, and as such this old sceptic found it acceptable.

The smaller Part 1 is the most relevant to `Sound Of Music' fans who will undoubtedly be entertained by scrutinising it in detail for similarities, discrepancies and surprising subtleties. Overall, it is an interesting and entertaining book that will handsomely reward both die-hard fan and casual reader alike.

Of course, there is more outside the scope of this book: for further information on Maria's life, see her autobiography Maria which describes her upbringing as well as later years in USA; the wonderful memoirs of eldest daughter Agathe von Trapp Memories Before and After The Sound of Music are extremely interesting and highly recommended, particularly for a description of the family's earlier years before Maria arrived.
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LibraryThing member liibooks
Maria tells a seemingly light and optimistic story about the Trapp family life in Austria before the war and their immigration to the US during the war. She describes about her family learning English, trying to be part of a new country, their ups and downs with concerts. She talks about learning to survive during tough times when they didn’t have any concerts to play and about the many new friends they found in the USA.
Even with all the bad things that happen to them she was still able to describe it optimism. When they were living in Austria and lost all their money, she even told her husband how happy she was about that. Only now after they lost it all, could they see the true character of their children. Maria’s American friends told her that she must remember that they are now poor, Maria answered: “we are not poor, we just don’t have money.” She was right; people like the Trapp family can never be poor.
This book is so sweet and the Trapp family was so loving and warm hearted with each other, almost too good to be true. It seemed more like a fairy tale than a true story to me. This is a great read for days when you feel sad or just need to be cheered up.
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LibraryThing member CatheOlson
I loved reading this memoir by Maria Trapp. The Sound of Music is one of my favorite all time movies so it was fun seeing where it came from. Trapp was a lot more religious than the Maria in the movie, which I guess figures because she had wanted to be a nun. Her zest for life and determination was so inspiring. I loved reading about some of the Austrian traditions which were similar to my parents German traditions and hearing the history of them.… (more)
LibraryThing member meyben
The real story behind the movie "The Sound of Music". Great book.
LibraryThing member mochap
Need I say more? If you're a fan of the classic movie, it's a must-read.
LibraryThing member rainbowdarling
This picture in to the actual life of the Von Trapp family is touching. It separates the saccharine (brought to the table by the musical and movie versions of The Sound of Music) and brings out what was real about the family. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to have a glimpse into the life of this large and well-known family. It made me love the famed musical even more while appreciating that the true life of the family that it was based on was somewhat different than the fictionalized version told.… (more)
LibraryThing member johnkuypers
So much more than the movie covers. Maria's faith and determination are a true inspiration as we see the full story of the von Trapp family after they escape from Austria
LibraryThing member 19vatermit64
Somewhere in my worthless, miserable blog, I must have done something...good?

This evening we look at The Story of the Trapp Family Singers which inspired the movie The Sound of Music.

At least once a day, I have to stop and marvel at being married to such a wonderful woman. I really am incredibly blessed, and the more I think about my wife, the more reasons I have to thank God for her. Thoughts like these tend to wander, and occasionally I find myself humming the words to that song from the movie The Sound of Music, where the Captain and Fraulein Maria sing about how they 'must have done something good' to deserve something - I think each other's love. This song is objectionable on several levels, one being that it sounds so much like a sappy song about 'Catholic guilt' for receiving such a blessing. "I am not worthy" and all that nonsense.
The other objection is that I know in my heart that I never, ever did anything good enough to deserve my wife. I don't think any man could say that if he is married to a good woman.

As a priest said to me once, I really married up.

The real story of the von Trapp family is far more interesting than the movie.

To begin with, there was no proposal under a canopy in the backyard, followed by a little singing and snuggling. Instead, Maria went back to the convent, since she still was under obedience to the superior of her order, and asked the nuns to tell her what to do. After prayer and reflection, they gave her the answer I suspect she did not want to hear: they told her to marry the man. There was no dramatic song about mountain climbing, sung by the mother superior while looking out the wrong window. The most dramatic moments in real life are usually made up of less exciting stuff, and are more beautiful for that reason.

In our own life, I proposed to my wife in the midst of an argument.

Another part of the book which I found inspiring is the death of the Captain. I really got the sense that these folks were Catholic by the way they prepared for the Captain's death. Maria and the Captain had agreed that if one of them were on his deathbed that the other would ask him a special question. The question, paraphrased, was:

"Do you accept death willingly from the hand of God?"

My wife and I have said this to each other now; once before she had her gallbladder removed, and again when I thought I was having a heart attack. Thankfully, neither one of us died, but it is a good thing to meditate on one's death, and how disposed one is at the moment of death.

What is a Flibbertigibbet?

I found this word(from the song 'How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?) in Shakespeare's King Lear. It is the name of a devil which was featured in 1603 in a book by Samuel Harsnett. The book was called Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures. This does not seem like the kind of word a nun(at least not an orthodox one) would ever use.

There are some reviews of the book that mention some stresses of touring and singing, and how things weren't as rosy as they were described in the book. Overall, I still recommend the book as a change from watching Julie Andrews singing her way around Austria.
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LibraryThing member briandrewz
A very sweetly told story by Maria von Trapp, whose book and family inspired the movie "The Sound of Music". The book tells of the family's experiences in Austria and when the moved to the USA during WWII. The book lightheartedly tells of the difficulties they encountered during their first years in America. It's a wonderful story of family togetherness.… (more)
LibraryThing member Davraena
The true story is infinitely better than the Hollywood version!
LibraryThing member AltheaAnn
I must've read this more than ten times as a child... it was an old, library-bound hardcover, and this was back in the day when your library card number got stamped onto the card in the back pocket. I think my number was the only one on there, over and over again.
So much more engaging, serious and interesting than 'The Sound of Music'! I remember loving all the historical detail of the times and Maria's authentic 'voice.'

I'm not sure if it'd still be 5 stars if I re-read today... but I do have Maria von Trapp's other book on my TBR... we'll see!
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LibraryThing member NadineC.Keels
An incredible account. I've wanted to read the story behind The Sound of Music for a number of years now. I was surprised at the amount of humor in it! The Nazi invasion into Austria made things suddenly eerie, and the account in Maria's letter toward the end had a depressing effect, but overall, it's a delightful memoir full of hope.… (more)


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Physical description

320 p.; 5.31 inches


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