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Maria Von Trapp, Last ‘Sound of Music’ Child, Dies at 99

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(Photo Credit: 20th Century-Fox Film Corp)

(CNN) — Maria von Trapp, the last of the singing children immortalized in the movie musical “The Sound of Music,” died at her Vermont home of natural causes, her half-brother told CNN on Saturday.

The native of Austria was 99 and lived in Stowe. She died Tuesday.

Maria von Trapp was the third-oldest child of Agathe Whitehead and Capt. Georg von Trapp. The couple had seven children: Rupert, Agathe, Maria, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna and Martina.

Georg von Trapp’s second wife, Maria Kutschera von Trapp, wrote a book titled “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers,” which sparked two German-made movies and “The Sound of Music.”

In 1959, the play “The Sound of Music” opened on Broadway. Julie Andrews, in arguably her most famous role, played the part of Georg’s wife, Maria, in the 1965 film. Christopher Plummer played Baron von Trapp. The movie won five Academy Awards, including best picture.

Johannes, the youngest son of Maria and Georg von Trapp, issued a statement following his sister’s passing: “Thank you for your thoughts. Maria had a wonderful life and while we will miss her, the memories of her will live on,” Johannes wrote.

Maria von Trapp later in life served as a lay missionary in Papua, New Guinea. She never married.

Both of Maria’s parents were talented musicians. Agathe played the violin and the piano while her father played the violin, accordion and mandolin.

“Sometimes our house must have sounded like a musical conservatory. You could hear us practice piano, violin, guitar, cello, clarinet, accordion, and later, recorders. We would gather in the evenings to play Viennese folksongs on our instruments with Father leading on the violin,” Maria wrote in her autobiography found on the Trapp Family Lodge’s website.

Agathe von Trapp died of scarlet fever in 1922. Maria also suffered from the disease and needed to be tutored at home as a result. That teacher, Maria, would eventually marry Georg in 1927.

The couple would go on to have three more children: Rosemarie, Eleonore and Johannes. The Trapps fled Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938 and moved to the United States.

The Trapp family, after traveling the world, purchased a 27-room family home in Stowe in 1950.

Thirty years later, the building was destroyed in a fire, then rebuilt into the Trapp Family Lodge. The property is still owned and operated by remaining members of the Trapp family, according to the lodge’s website.

The elder Maria von Trapp died in 1987.

3 comments

  • Rod Cusack

    I was extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to meet this gracious lady in PNG in 1987 when on a cruise on TSS Fairstar. Maria was waiting on the dock to meet the ship as she had been contacted by mutual friends from Australia who had known her when they were living in Port Moresby. I recognised her instantly from their description of her as an elderly Prussian lady with her braided hair on top of her head. They have remained in contact with her over the years and were also saddened to hear about her passing.

    Maria drove me around Moresby in her little Suzuki hatch, showing me the sights which I would not have otherwise seen as a tourist, then taking me to her modest accommodation for afternoon tea. She was obviously well known and respected by the locals that she spoke to when we were doing our tour, due to her work as a lay missionary.

    When we returned to the ship, it was interesting to show Maria over the ship and she asked whether there were first and second class sections on board. As “Fairstar” was then a tourist cruise ship, it was therefore one class. When we ventured up to the bridge area of the ship (which was “off limits” to passengers), a crew member was quick to give us our marching orders! Needless to say, he was unaware of exactly who my guest was or I doubt that he would have been quite so abrupt with the way he spoke to us.

    I shall always treasure the memory of this brief encounter with a humble and gentle person. Bless you Maria for all that you achieved in a most fulfilling life and thank you for taking the time to look after a stranger from Australia.

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