The story of the von TRAPP family
There are many films made around the world every year. And yet, every one of us can name but a few films that have changed our lives and the way we perceive it. One of these films is the 1965 The Sound of Music, starring Christopher Plummer. It is a story of family values and ideals, of love between man and woman, of parents’ love and love towards one’s homeland, even when it entails sacrifice. The film is an adaptation of the autobiography of Maria Augusta von TRAPP and I believe everyone is familiar with the story: after his wife’s death, a retired naval officer of the fallen imperial and royal monarchy lives with his children at an estate near Salzburg. He employs a governess, the young Maria Kutschera, a novice from the nearby Benedictine monastery. The film depicts discipline and spontaneity, music, children’s frolicking and good upbringing, the budding love between man and woman and their escape from Nazi Austria.
However, few people know of the autobiography of Georg von TRAPP. This submarine captain of the former monarchy, holder of the most medals, was born and educated in Croatia, where he met his first wife and where the first three of his children were born. The story of their encounter and their love is also a story of two important cities of the monarchy: the maritime centre of Pula and the trade and industrial centre of Rijeka.
TRAPPOVI na filmu 'Moje pjesme, moji snovi'
Svake godine u svijetu se proizvede velik broj filmova. A ipak svatko od nas može na prste jedne ruke nabrojati one koji nam mijenjaju život i način na koji ga osjećamo. Jedan od takvih filmova je "Moje pjesme, moji snovi" (The Sound of Music) iz 1965.godine u kojem glume Julie Andrews i Christopher Plummer. Priča je to o obiteljskim vrijednostima i ljudskim idealima, o ljubavi između muškarca i žene, o roditeljskoj ljubavi i ljubavi prema domovini za koju se spremno podnosi žrtva. Film je snimljen prema autobiografiji Marie Auguste von TRAPP, a priča je, vjerujem, svima poznata: umirovljeni pomorski časnik nestale k.u.k. monarhije, nakon smrti supruge živi sam s djecom na imanju blizu Salzburga. Kao guvernantu zapošljava mladu Mariju Kutscheru, novakinju iz obližnjeg benediktinskog samostana. Stega i spontanost, glazba, dječji nestašluci i fin kućni odgoj, rađanje ljubavi između muškarca i žene te bijeg iz nacističke Austrije teme su filma.
Malo tko međutim zna da postoji i autobiografija Georga von TRAPPA i da je taj najodlikovaniji podmornički kapetan propale Monarhije rođen i školovan u Hrvatskoj, gdje je upoznao i svoju prvu suprugu i gdje mu je rođeno prvo troje djece. Priča o njihovu susretu i ljubavi ujedno je međutim i priča o dva važna monarhijska središta: mornaričke Pule i trgovačko-industrijske Rijeke.
REAL story, real PEOPLE
George was born Zadar and lived in Croatia (Pula then Rijeka) until the death of his first wife.
- Maria : Julie Andrews (born Julia Elizabeth Wells 1935 - )
- Georg : Christopher Plummer (born Arthur Christopher Orme PLUMMER 1929 - )
- Liesl : Charmian CARR (born Charmian Anne FARNON 1942 - )
- Louisa : Heather MENZIES (1949 - )
- Friedrich : Nicholas HAMMOND (1950 - )
- Kurt : Duane CHASE (1950 - )
- Brigitta : Angela CARTWRIGHT (1952 - )
- Marta : Debbie TURNER (1956 - )
- Gretl : Kym KARATH (1958 - )
Movie vs. Reality
The Real Story of the Von TRAPP-family By Joan GEARIN
Part of the story of the real Von TRAPP-family can be found in the records of the National Archives. When they fled the Nazi regime in Austria, the Von TRAPP's traveled to America. Their entry into the United States and their subsequent applications for citizenship are documented in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration.
Maria von TRAPP's certificate of arrival into Niagara Falls, NY, on December 30, 1942, authenticated that she arrived legally in the United States. (Records of District Courts of the United States, RG 21)
Fact from Fiction
While The Sound of Music was generally based on the first section of Maria's book The Story of the TRAPP Family Singers (published in 1949), there were many alterations and omissions.
- Maria came to the van Trapp family as a governess for Maria, who was recovering from scarlet fever, not as governess to all the children.
- Maria and Georg (born in Zadar, Croatia) married in 1927, 11 years before the family left Austria, not right before the Nazi takeover of Austria.
- Maria did not marry Georg von Trapp because she was in love with him. As she said in her autobiography Maria, she fell in love with the children at first sight, not their father. When he asked her to marry him, she was not sure if she should abandon her religious calling but was advised by the nuns to do God's will and marry Georg. "I really and truly was not in love. I liked him but didn't love him. However, I loved the children, so in a way I really married the children. . . . [B]y and by I learned to love him more than I have ever loved before or after."
- There were 10, not 7 von Trapp children.
- The names, ages, and sexes of the children were changed.
- The family was musically inclined before Maria arrived, but she did teach them to sing madrigals.
- Georg, far from being the detached, cold-blooded patriarch of the family who disapproved of music, as portrayed in the first half of The Sound of Music, was actually a gentle, warmhearted parent who enjoyed musical activities with his family. While this change in his character might have made for a better story in emphasizing Maria's healing effect on the von Trapps, it distressed his family greatly.
- The family did not secretly escape over the Alps to freedom in Switzerland, carrying their suitcases and musical instruments. As daughter Maria said in a 2003 interview printed in Opera News, "We did tell people that we were going to America to sing. And we did not climb over mountains with all our heavy suitcases and instruments. We left by train, pretending nothing."
- The von Trapps traveled to Italy, not Switzerland. Georg was born in Zadar, Croatia, which at that time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Zadar became part of Italy in 1920, and Georg was thus an Italian citizen, and his wife and children as well. The family had a contract with an American booking agent when they left Austria. They contacted the agent from Italy and requested fare to America.
- Instead of the fictional Max Detweiler, pushy music promoter, the von Trapps' priest, the Reverend Franz Wasner, acted as their musical director for over 20 years.
- Though she was a caring and loving person, Maria wasn't always as sweet as the fictional Maria. She tended to erupt in angry outbursts consisting of yelling, throwing things, and slamming doors. Her feelings would immediately be relieved and good humor restored, while other family members, particularly her husband, found it less easy to recover. In her 2003 interview, the younger Maria confirmed that her stepmother "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."
The Real von Trapps
- Georg von TRAPP, born in 1880, became a national hero as a captain in the Austrian navy during World War I. He commanded submarines with valor and received the title of "Ritter" (the equivalent of the British baronet or "Sir," but commonly translated as "Baron") as a reward for his heroic accomplishments. Georg married Agathe WHITEHEAD, the granddaughter of Robert WHITEHEAD, the inventor of the torpedo, in 1912.
Georg and Agathe had seven children together:
- Rupert ‧ 1911-1992 ‧
- Agathe ‧ 1913-2010 ‧
- Maria ‧ 1914-2014
- Werner ‧ 1915- 2007 ‧
- Hedwig ‧ 1917-1972 ‧
- Johanna ‧ 1919-1994 ‧ and
- Martina ‧ 1921-1952 ‧
After World War I, Austria lost all of its seaports, and Georg retired from the navy. His wife died in 1922 of scarlet fever. The family was devastated by her death and unable to bear living in a place where they had been so happy, Georg sold his property in Pula, Croatia and bought an estate in Salzburg.