Trapp Family and Adoption

Preparing for a concert in 1941


The Trapps, Baron and Baroness von Trapp and their 10 children, are one of the world's most famous families, and the subject of one of the most successful stage musicals and films in history: The Sound of Music.

Maria Augusta Kutschera, Baroness von Trapp, was born on a train in 1905. Her mother died when she was two and her father left her to be raised by cousins so he would be free to travel with his work as an engineer. She continued to visit her father until he died when she was nine.

Initially she was cared for by an elderly cousin with grown-up children, then by her son-in-law, who was a judge, but mentally unstable and who abused her physically. After school she went to a teachers' college, but after a radical religious conversion she entered a convent in 1924.

While still a postulant she was sent to be governess to a sick daughter of the wealthy widowed Baron Georg von Trapp, a retired naval captain. The rest is musical and cinematic history: Maria and Georg were married in 1927, Maria became step-mother to the Baron's seven children, and they had three more together.

In 1938 the entire family, in reduced circumstances after a bank failure, and with Maria expecting their last child, Johannes, fled to Italy to escape the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, leaving everything behind, and settled, virtually penniless, in the USA. To survive, they turned a family recreation into an international career as a singing family.

Some years later, on tour in Australia, they were approached by Archbishop Carboni, who encouraged them to consider becoming involved in South Pacific missions. In 1957 the family gave up professional music, both touring and a music camp they had begun in 1947. Baroness Maria and two of the children did some teaching and fact-finding work for the Church in the South Pacific for a year and returned home to Vermont. Daughter Maria stayed in Papua New Guinea for 30 years as a missionary.

The family built up a still thriving ski and holiday village in Vermont, the Trapp Family Lodge. Of the 10 children, Rupert died in 1992, Hedwig in 1972, Johanna in 1994 and Martina in 1952. Agathe, Maria, Werner, Rosemarie, Eleonore and Johannes are still living; Johannes is head of the family business. Baroness Maria died in 1987 and Baron Georg in 1947.


Dever, Maria, and Dever, Aileen. Relative Origins: Famous Foster and Adopted People. (Portland: National Book Company, 1992) Trapp, Maria Augusta von. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1949) Trapp, Maria Augusta von. Maria: My Own Story. (Carol Stream: Creation House, 1972) Trapp, Maria Augusta von. The Trapp Family on Wheels. (London: G. Bles, 1960) "Maria Augusta von Trapp," Current Biography Yearbook, 1968 "Trapp Family Lodge: History of the Trapp Family." [Includes portraits]. Available at: Associated Press. "Von Trapp Daughter Returns from Reunion." Available at: Originally published: Washington Post, 16 April 1987, p. M11? Argyle Enterprises, and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. "The Sound of Music: Historical Archives." [Includes portraits]. Available at: