Von Trapp Family

The ‘Sound of Their Music’ was heard in Richmond long before it hit the big screen with Julie Andrews in the lead role.

The von Trapp family in ‘The Sound of Music’ was not a Hollywood creation: they were an actual family.

They appeared in Richmond on Jan. 31, 1945 before a packed house at the Tivoli theatre.

The seven daughters with their mother and father came onto the darkened Tivoli stage carrying lanterns and each sang, taking a place in the family circle. (Two older sons were in the Army overseas and one smaller son was at home on the farm in Vermont.)

Hymns and carols were sung, along with madrigals, folk songs, yodels, mountain calls and Austrian dance melodies.

Just like in the movie, George von Trapp, a widowed Austrian aristocrat, had married the children’s governess. When the family lost their fortune in a bank crash, Maria turned the family hobby – singing – into a profitable family profession.

In March of 1938, Nazis marched into Salzburg and the von Trapps decided it was time to leave.

Maria arranged an American concert tour and the family fled, never to return.

They did not climb any mountains to escape: they left by train and made their way to America without incident, and later appeared in Richmond on Jan. 31, 1945 before a packed house.



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June 19, 2012