Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Sound of Music: It Started With a Book by the "Real Maria"...

source - Trapp Family website

If you, like me, have been enjoying the many articles and television specials (for instance the wonderful Diane Sawyer special last night with Julie Andrews, or the Huffington Post piece, "5 Stories You Didn't Know About The Sound of Music") regaling the 50th Anniversary of the iconic Sound of Music film, I know you'll enjoy the book that inspired it all, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp.

My mom introduced me to the book years ago, and it's even more enchanting than the musical (which I adore). I had so much fun reading the true story in Maria Augusta Trapp's own words.

Obviously the book made an impact on many, for it inspired first a German-Austrian comedy drama film (ironically!), then a Broadway-hit (1959), and later the Oscar-winning Hollywood film (all totally romanticized of course)!

I used to love to listen to my parents' recording.  No DVD movies back then!

Maria's biographical story was published in 1949, and in 1950 she won St. Francis de Sales Golden Book Award from the Catholic Writers Guild for the best book of non fiction.

A few things in the true story surprised me -- mainly that the family was musically accomplished even before Maria's arrival (though she is the one who introduced them to the classical madrigals that they became known for singing), and secondly, that they became so religiously devout after her arrival (if I remember correctly, they observed Mass daily - their conductor/manager was a priest.)

It was obvious from her reminiscences that Maria's stay at the Abbey before her arrival to the family's home had a huge influence on her, and she adored the captain's children from the very start of her time as a tutor there.  I loved Maria's description of teaching the children about Advent and making a beautiful hanging wreath of candles for them when she first arrived.

One of the most humorous parts of the story for me was Maria's account of some of their first experiences in America after they left Austria (which isn't part of the movie at all!)

After they arrived in America with hardly any money, and as they learned to adapt to a new culture, steely Maria quickly got to work finding used furniture to furnish their living quarters - she was the queen of yard/estate/garage sales!  And they toured all over, literally trying to survive financially.

Their first major concert, which brought the Trapp Family Choir national attention, took place in New York in Town Hall on Dec. 10, 1938.

In a review of their opening performance, The New York Times commented: ''There was something unusually lovable and appealing about the modest, serious singers of this little family aggregation as they formed a close semicircle about their self-effacing director for their initial offering, the handsome Mme. von Trapp in simple black, and the youthful sisters garbed in black and white Austrain folk costumes enlivened with red ribbons. It was only natural to expect work of exceeding refinement from them, and one was not disappointed in this.''

In 1942, the family bought a 660-acre farm in Stowe, Vermont, which later became a lodge and summer music camp.  It is still running to this day.  Go here for more information.

I hope you take time to find this book - it's such an enjoyable read!


  1. Wonderful book! I still laugh thinking about her scheme to disguise her pregnancy when they were touring America (they feared deportation if it were discovered). :)

    1. Yes! So many wonderful moments in the story, many unbelievable! :)