Sunday, February 14, 2010

It started way before the movie…

The first reader comment came in, asking if I was able to understand that the characters in the movie were supposed to be my relatives. The short answer is here. The longwinded answer follows:

The Sound of Music
(the movie version) won the academy award for best picture in 1965, the year I was born. Of course this was before the age of video and DVD, so I didn’t see the film itself until it came out again in theaters a few years later (I was probably six or seven, I don’t remember). It was the second time I’d ever been to the movies, and I remember being really excited about seeing it because it was supposed to be about my father’s family.

Here I have to explain something: my father was a very quiet man, he didn’t talk much about his youth unless you asked him. By the time I came along, he was 53 years old, father of six, small town family practitioner. My older siblings probably have a better recollection of all the hoopla surrounding the Sound of Music when it first came out on Broadway starring Mary Martin, which opened in 1959 (funnily enough, the year my sister Stephanie was born. I’m starting to see a pattern here. …)

But that’s not to say I didn’t know my father’s family was famous. We spend each summer vacation at the Trapp Family Lodge, in Stowe VT visiting Mutter (what we called our grandmother, Maria) and various aunts, uncles and cousins who were around. In the photo here (1968 or 69), my family was photographed playing cards together, (L-R) Tizzy, Papa, George, Stephanie, me, Chris, Monique and Mom.

There were Saturday night Austrian folk dances in St. George’s Hall with the guests, and rainy-day screenings of the German version of the family story, Die Trapp-Familie, which preceded the stage show by 3 years, and was what both the stage and screen versions were based on. I actually prefer that version, because it' much more true to the real story. The sequel to that, Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika continued the story all the way to Vermont.

To us, the family’s fame came not from the movie adaptation, but from having spent over 20 years (1935-1957) touring the world as a family singing group. (If you want more history, go here.)

And oh, by the way, not to burst any bubbles, but the family did NOT go around singing Doe A Deer, My Favorite Things, and Climb Ev’ry Mountain…. Their repertoire comprised sacred, secular and folk music from around the world. Their musical director was a Catholic priest - Father Franz Wasner; not the opportunistic Max Detweiller (although I have to say he IS my favorite character in the movie.) And Edelweiss is NOT The Austrian National Anthem.

We’re just getting started here, but I can’t write all this in one day, can I? Keep the questions coming, I’ll do my best to keep up. -- F.v.T.


  1. Love your blog, Francoise!

    Back in the day of Dominican Academy, I hadn't a clue you belonged to such a famous family. You were just the girl in Sr. Mary Agnes' class who was sooooo absorbed in her reading that she hadn't a clue that the entire class was standing for the "Pledge of Allegience", waiting for her to "get with the program"!

  2. Thanks Judy!

    Guilty - as charged! Funny, the things we remember from childhood. Incidentally, its not surprising you didn't know - kids our age hadn't really had the continuous exposure to the film. It was that year, our sixth grade, that it first was broadcast on ABC - 1976 then again in 1979 before it was shown regularly. After that is when everyone started to make the connection and the questions began.

  3. Hi, This is a great idea! Can you give us some more background information on "The Sound of Music Singing Goat"? Was it your pet when your were little?

  4. Ha Ha - It's so cute! I wish I had had one when I was little. I did have one of those little dogs that barked and flipped over though.

    Here's something to think about. In 2008, the Salzburg Marionetten Theatre created a marionette version of the stage production and took it on tour. I've seen this troupe perform The Magic Flute. I wish I had seen this one, because of The Lonely Goatherd scene in the movie. Can you imagine? Marionettes performing with marionettes? That must be really tricky.