“The Sound of Music” is one of the most beloved family movies of all time.
The story of how a family of talented singers fled Nazi-occupied Austria during World War II has captivated audiences on both stage and screen for generations. While we’ve come to know and love the characters in the film, the actual family members behind the story recall a very different, and very interesting tale.
“Everyone thinks the Sound of Music was exactly the way things happened,” explained Johannes von Trappe, the youngest son of Georg and Maria. “This was the Hollywood version of the Broadway version of the German film version of the book that my mother wrote.”
Maria’s book “The Story of the von Trapp Family Singers” told the true story of how Maria and Georg escaped Nazi-occupied Austria during the second World War, and many of the details are indeed different than you’d expect.
While it’s true that Maria von Trapp gave up being a nun to join the family in Austria, she was not a governess. Rather, Maria came to live in the von Trapp household as a tutor for the widowed Georg’s seven children.
Contrary to the Hollywood version of events, Maria and Georg did not actually fall madly in love. At least, not right away, anyway.
“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.”
But over time respect grew to a deep love.
“I learned to love him more than I have ever loved before or after.”<.em>
After getting married on November 26, 1927, Maria and Georg didn’t flee the Nazis right away. They lived in Austria for ten more years and had three children of their own together.
Johannes also explained that his older sister Agatha, the inspiration for the character of Leisel, was nothing like the precocious teen depicted on screen. Agatha was actually quite shy and not interested in dating boys. The “You Are Sixteen” duet between Leisel and Ralph not only never happened, but the family was “rolling in the aisles in stitches” when they saw the dramatized version of Agatha.
Johannes and his family also agreed that Maria is not nearly as “ladylike” as Julie Andrews’ portrayal made her out to be, nor was Georg as stern.
In the movie, the von Trapps make a dramatic escape by hiking over the alps to freedom. But in real life, the family boarded a train for a singing tour of Europe, and never returned home to Austria.
After the family left Europe, they settled in a small town in Vermont, where they opened the Trapp Family Lodge. There, Maria von Trapp wrote a book detailing their life to pay the bills that was eventually adapted to screen.
The family still runs this establishment today, and you can even stay there to get a taste of the history and magic of the von Trapp’s unique and fascinating real-life story.
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