Maria von Trapp, the Last Surviving Member of the Von Trapp Family Singers, Has Died at the Age of 99

Her stepmother, also named Maria, was hired as her personal tutor Read More

By / February 24, 2014

Maria von Trapp, the last surviving sibling of the seven von Trapp children portrayed in Oscar-winning musical, The Sound of Music, has died at the age of 99. Maria—whose name was changed to Louisa in the film—was the third oldest child of Baron Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe. Her stepmother, also named Maria, was a postulate nun hired as her personal tutor when she was ailing from scarlet fever (the same disease that killed Agathe).

The Trapp Family Choir, as they were originally known, became popular in Europe in the mid-1930s. They fled Austria following the anchluss in 1938 and performed their first concert in New York later that year, re-branded as the Trapp Family Singers. (Booking agent Frederick Christian Schang deemed their original name too stiff and conservative.) The family ultimately settled in Vermont, where they ran a music camp.

In 2008, Maria explained that her father was not the stern disciplinarian depicted in The Sound of Music:

“Von Trapp smiles as she recalls the memory of her and her six siblings clambering and playing in the villa in the leafy suburbs of Salzburg in Austria and spending nights in hammocks in the park surrounding the family home… ‘We were all pretty shocked at how they portrayed our father, he was so completely different. He always looked after us a lot, especially after our mother died.'”

Maria adopted a son, Kikuli Mwanukuzi, who she met whilst doing missionary work in Papua New Guinea. She is survived by Kikuli and three half-siblings.