Born in Vienna, Maria von Kutschera was living as a novice at the Benedictine Convent, Nonnberg Abbey, in Salzburg, when she was sent by her Mother Superior as a governess to the househould of Baron Georg Ritter von Trapp to look after his seven children, left motherless after the death of his wife. In 1927, Maria became the Baron’s wife and the Trapp family’s legend found its beginnings.
She wrote The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, which was published in 1949 and was the inspiration for the 1956 West German film The Trapp Family, which in turn inspired the 1959 Broadway musical The Sound of Music and its 1965 film version, writes LIAM POWER



Maria von Trapp was born in 1905 aboard a train heading for Vienna, capital of Austria. At the time she was named Maria Augusta Kutschera and was raised as an atheist. Through a misunderstanding she went as a teenager to a Palm Sunday service where a priest was speaking and, as she wrote, “the way this priest spoke swept me off my feet. I was completely overwhelmed.”

She joined a Benedictine convent in Salzburg as a novice, with high hopes of becoming a nun. One day in 1926 Georg von Trapp asked the Reverend Mother to supply a tutor for one of his daughters who was recovering from scarlet fever. The nun was anxious to please Georg as he was somewhat of a national hero following a distinguished naval career. He had served mostly on submarines, and during WW1 he sank eleven vessels and captured a cargo ship.

When the war ended, Austria lost its coastline. So there was no further need for a navy, and Georg was out of a job. Still, he was prosperous and lived with his wife Agatha and their seven children in a beautiful country house on the outskirts of Salzburg.
His world changed when Agatha died. Finding it difficult to manage the household and unable to cope with the daughter who had scarlet fever, he turned to the convent for help.
The Reverend Mother selected Maria to look after the girl. Maria was chosen partly for the good of her own health and partly because she had been a teacher, and she was told that she would remain with the von Trapp family for ten months.

Although she was employed to attend to one ill child, she enjoyed the company of all seven children and became actively involved in their daily lives, encouraging them with their singing and their outdoor activities. It helped that Georg did not disapprove of music – as was shown in the movie ‘The Sound of Music’ – and that in real life he was a gentle creature who liked to sing with his progeny.

Maria herself was not easy to live with. In many ways she was highly emotional, and one of the children said that the novice from the convent “had a terrible temper and from one moment to the next you didn’t know what hit her. We were not used to this, but we took it like a thunderstorm that would pass because the next minute she could be very nice.”

Despite her flashes of temper, Georg very much appreciated how well she cared for his sons and daughters. So he asked her to marry him and become a second mother to the children. Because she yearned to become a nun, she hurried back to the convent to seek the advice of the Reverend Mother and, to her disappointment, the nun told her that it was God’s Will that she should marry him.

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