Captain Georg Von Trapp was 47 years-old when he married Maria then 22 years-old. He was a highly decorated Navy officer in WWI. His father was also a highly decorated Navy officer who was given nobility which is one of the reasons why the family ended up with so much money. He died when the younger Von Trapp was four years-old.
If his father was still around he would’ve been proud of his son’s accomplishments which included extraordinary service on surface ships and was one of the first commanders on submarines. The reason he got his first submarine assignment was due to his wife’s grandfather being the inventor of the modern torpedo. His wife’s family was very rich and that is one of the reasons he was so wealthy before and after she died to his inheritance.
Maria was an orphan since age seven and had a teaching degree before she became a nun. Captain Von Trapp’s wife died of Scarlet Fever and he was left with seven children. Maria was asked to tutor a few of the kids and all them ended up loving her like their own mother. The love affair between she and Captain Von Trapp wasn’t how they depicted on TV instead it was more like a marriage of convenience. She said it took a few years before she grew madly in love with him.
Unlike the movie, Captain Von Trapp wasn’t forced to fight for Germany; they wanted him to, but didn’t force it. They did leave nevertheless because things we getting more volatile in Austria as the war went on. They didn’t escape climbing up a mountain but instead by car during the day. They moved to Italy and reestablished themselves again. Mr. Von Trapp had sent much of his fortune to a bank in London which was run by an old friend, but unfortunately the bank crashed during the worldwide depression (we tend to think it just happened here).
Faced with a difficult financial situation, Maria decided to try and create a family singing group in hopes they could start making money. A family friend and priest had been living with them and said he would manage the group and get singing engagements. It worked successfully and
the group started singing not only in Europe but they went on tour in the U.S. a couple of times. They fell in love with Vermont during one of their trips as it reminded them of Austria so they decided to move there and ended up purchasing a 660 acre ranch. Maria and George ended up having three children of their own.
While performing in the U.S., an agent heard them sing and helped them get a recording contract with RCA records; where they became very successful; they were even on one of Elvis Pressley’s Christmas albums. When they weren’t on tour they had a singing camp in Vermont and ran the Trapp Family Lodge.
In 1957 the group retired; Maria turned the Lodge over to one of her sons and then she and three of her children became missionaries in the South Pacific. Captain Von Trapp had died ten years earlier of lung cancer. Maria never remarried and lived forty more years than him and finally died of heart failure at the age of 82.
Of course I found out a lot of things I didn’t know about this story including that it was a true story! The Sound of Music was a play and then movie in Europe before it became a Broadway and movie sensation here. One thing I definitely came away in my research is that Maria wasn’t the wallflower the movie made her out to be. She was a strong-willed woman who was certainly the Captain’s equal if not his commander.
So anyhow there you have it in as condensed of a version I could make considering the subject matter. My opinion is they could make a fantastic (non-musical) true story movie about the family after they left Austria because their story is absolutely amazing.