The 26th of January 1905, a baby girl is delivered on board a train bound for Vienna. In her hallmark impetuosity that inspired the famous lyrics “Maria”, Maria Augusta Kutschera, renowned the world over as Baroness Maria v
on Trapp of “The Sound of Music” fame, is too impatient to make her mark on history. As she unceremoniously made her whirlwind entry into the world, scarce would her parents have imagined, that over a century late their newborn daughter would be universally loved and known. It is her inspiring retelling of her family’s life experiences that is forever immortalized with over 1,500 Broadway performances, six Tony Awards, three million albums sold and five Academy Awards. Colombo is hot with anticipation as Cinnamon Life presents this award winning musical production by Andrew Lloyd Weber and David Ian’s The Really Useful Groups. But as we celebrate her birthday it seems only befitting that we pause to take a deeper look at the real woman behind the story.
The musical and movie of Maria, the Baron and the von Trapp children are loosely based on Maria’s first book “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers”. Her heartwarming story of the von Trapp family of singers first inspired the 1956 West German film The Trapp Family which in turn inspired the Broadway musical The Sound of Music (1959) and the 1965 film of the same name. However, it is her autobiography Maria (Carol Stream, IL: Creation House, 1972) that reveals more of the enigmatic woman behind the scenes.
Maria, from the time she was born, was never destined for the mundane. Delivered on a train, orphaned at the age of ten, at 18 she would graduate from the State Teachers College for Progressive Education in Vienna. At 19 she enters the Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg, her heart set on becoming a nun. At 21 the Abbey sent her to be in house tutor for one of the seven children of the widowed naval commander Georg von Trapp. After ten months of service she was to return to the Abbey to take her final vows. Before long the fiercely maternal spirit of Maria had taken all seven children under her wing. It was her warm, loving rapport with his children that prompted Georg von Trapp, 25 years her senior, to propose to her. Terrified Maria fled back to the comforting cloister of the Abbey. Advised by her abbess that it was God‘s will that she should marry the Baron, Maria returned to the family.
Married on the 26 of November 1927 Maria and Georg would later have 3 children together. Though the movie and Broadway productions paints a picture of budding romance, speaking of her wedding day, Maria shares that she was furious, both at God and at her husband, because her heart was set on being a nun. Her honest and compelling narrative states “I really and truly was not in love. I liked him but didn’t love him. However, I loved the children, so in a way I really married the children.” However, she poignantly affirms in her autobiography Maria (Carol Stream, IL: Creation House, 1972) “I learned to love him more than I have ever loved before or after.”
After marriage the von Trapps would weather many a crisis together. Maria was strong and resolute by her husband’s side when the family hit financial crisis during worldwide depression. Letting the servants go, she stoically decides to rent out rooms in the von Trapp Home.
The family begins touring as group of singers to supplement their income. Winning first place at the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936 the von Trapps fast became a success, singing Renaissance and Baroque music, madrigals, and folk songs across Europe. But when in 1938 The Nazis take over Austria the von Trapps choose to leave success and all that is loved and familiar behind rather than stay beholden to a regime which would call for a compromise of their strict sense of principles. The family begins a new chapter on foreign shores and Maria the proverbial matriarch that holds her family together as they carve out a new life in strange and new land.