The Trapp family from Salzburg - the real story
If you've been reading our blog for a while, then maybe you remember ours Visit the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont a few years ago. Curiosity has been gnawing at us since then. The story of the Trapp family that started in 1938 before the National Socialists Austria fled to the USA, had made us curious and never let us go. Above all, we wanted to find out the truth about the Trapp family's escape from the National Socialists, not the Hollywood version of the film "The Sound of Music" that made the family world famous. The filmic representation is not entirely true. That is why we went to visit last weekend Salzburg countrywho brought us a good deal closer to the actual fate of this remarkable family. The opportunity was good, because in the evening “The Sound of Music” was performed in German in the Salzburg State Theater.
The home of the Trapp family in Aigen near Salzburg
The great thing about this weekend in Salzburg and surroundings was that we could live in the former home of the Trapp family, the Villa Trapp. The villa is closed to the public. We slept in the room of Maria, the third eldest daughter of Baron Georg von Trapp.
When I asked Christoph Unterkofler, our host, whether Maria actually slept here before she left for the States, he laughs and says: “Maria was a guest in the house and answered exactly this question. She said, 'We were a family. One of them slept in this room and a few years later in that one. It's not that easy to assign the rooms in this house.'” The room names should be seen more as a reference to the Trapp family than as actual historical facts.
The Trapp family in Salzburg - their true story
Nevertheless, we have the feeling to get closer to the Trapp family in this villa, there are numerous memorabilia that belonged to Georg von Trapp and his children. So we find in a showcase in the salon a ship's bell, which comes from his submarine, which he commanded during the First World War in the service of the navy of Austria K. and K. times. In the entrance hall are two magnificently carved Chinese wooden benches brought by the Trapp family from one of their concert tours. The rooms and the 150-year-old staircase are home to photos of the children and the family, and the breakfast room features an old piano reminiscent of the days when the Trapp Family Singers started their world career as a singer-songfellow. This began after Georg von Trapp married the nanny of the seven children he got with his first wife.
Maria Kutschera came to 1925 as a house teacher in the house of the Trapp family. She previously worked as a teacher at Nonnberg Monastery in Salzburg and was about to become a nun herself. Her plans changed when she married 1927 the 25 years older Georg von Trapp. Maria was very musical, and her stepchildren had made music together with her father before arriving in the family. Georg von Trapp was - in contrast to the military acting father of the musical - a loving father.
He reportedly loved to have his children around him. The pipe with which he commands his gang of rascals around in "The Sound of Music" actually exists, and we find it among the memorabilia of the family. His daughter Maria reports: “My father only used the pipe to call us from the extensive park when he was looking for us. Each of us had a personal signal. When father whistled for us, we always knew who he was looking for. "
The Trapp family welcomed famous guests
Since Georg von Trapp had to give up his profession after the end of the First World War because Austria lost its access to the sea at the end of the war, the Trapp family had to economically restrict itself. She moved to the upper floor of the villa and rented the rooms on the two lower floors to paying guests. One of them was the well-known actress Lotte Lehmann, who heard the family sing during her visit. It was also she who recommended that you take part in a folk music competition during the Salzburg Festival. (There was no such thing as "Uncle Max", as he appears in the musical "Sound of Music". Just as little as Elsa Schrader, the lover in the musical.) The Trapp family won the singing competition. Radio appearances and concerts in Austria and other European countries followed.
The Trapp family leaves for the USA
After Salzburg's annexation to Germany, the National Socialists offered Georg von Trapp a position in the German navy. As a staunch monarchist, he refused to accept this offer. Instead, the Trapp family prepared their departure. She was invited to a concert tour of the United States, and so they fled by train from Aigen station - not on foot over the mountains as in the movie - first to Italy and from there to the USA, where she was using a temporary artist visa completed their concerts. Mary gave birth to her youngest son, Johannes, in the USA. So they could easily immigrate to the United States after another concert tour through Sweden, but Johannes already had by his birth already the American citizenship.
A journey to the film locations of The Sound of Music
We use our stay in Salzburg to explore the locations of the film version of "The Sound of Music". Here, too, we encounter contradictions that falsify the true story of the Trapp family. Hollywood director Robert Wise does not use the real Villa Trapp as a film set for the Trapp family home. It was obviously not pompous enough for him. Instead, he chooses two castles in the Salzburg area as filming locations: the back of Castle Leopoldskron with its lake serves as the back of the “Trapp Villa” in the film, and the front of Frohnburg Castle outside Salzburg becomes the front of the Trapp Villa in Hollywood.
It comes to strange scenes, you know the actual location of the shooting. While the father calls his children into the house with the façade of Schloss Leopoldskron and the lake behind them, the children romp in the park of Frohnburg Castle. What in reality involves a distance of several kilometers, appears in the film as a short walk of a few minutes.
The dance scene
The dance scene to the song "I am 16, going on 17" was filmed in front of a gazebo on the lakefront in Leopoldskron. This glass pavilion has been in the Hellbrunn Palace Park. In the film, the pavilion looks much larger than in reality. That too has something to do with Hollywood, since the exterior scenes were filmed at Leopoldskron Lake, but the actual dance scene was shot in a much larger replica gazebo in Hollywood Studios. It is similar with Maria's arrival from the Nonnberg monastery. Your journey from there to Villa Trapp takes just a few minutes in the film. In reality there are 25 kilometers between the Trapp Villa and the monastery. In the film, Georg and Maria get married in the basilica in Mondsee. Their real wedding took place in the Nonnberg monastery. Our tour in the footsteps of Hollywood is exciting.
On the way in the footsteps of the Trapp family and "The Sound of Music"
We are on the way with one of the organized bus tours in the footsteps of "The Sound of Music", on which we learn these interesting details. What surprises me the most on this four-hour tour of Salzburg, the Salzburg suburbs and the Salzburg region past Fuschlsee, Wolfgangsee to Mondsee is the fact that we share the bus with mostly young people from all over the world. However, we are looking in vain for other German-speaking guests.
The musical and its film adaptation with Julie Andrews as Maria and Christopher Plummer as Baron, which is hardly known in Austria and Germany, is a hit all over the world. To date, "The Sound of Music" is the most viewed musical in the world with more than 2 billion viewers. We are traveling with young Australians, British, Asians and a few Canadians. And everyone connects "The Sound of Music" with the Christmas season, when it is part of their family customs to watch the musical.
A day in the footsteps of the Trapp Family
Our day in the footsteps of the Trapp family is an extremely exciting day full of complex interrelationships between the truth, the story, the filming in Salzburg and Hollywood and the actors who are still involved in the history of the Trapp family today. We were offered a very lively insight into the history of Europe and Salzburg's in the last 100 years.
Do you like to travel by motorhome?
- Do you want to rent a motorhome? Then you will find information and a selection in these booking options. Or would you rather stay in one roof tent on the car? Also the overnight stay in camping tents is possible.
- Check our packing list for campers to see whether you have packed everything for your motorhome tour.
- Camping Schloss Aigen is located near Villa Trapp, Weberbartlweg 20, 5026 Salzburg, Austria. However, there are other campsites near Salzburg.
- Why is a folding e-bike useful when camping?
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Source: On-site research. We would like to thank Salzburg Tourism for inviting us to this trip. The article contains a few Affiliate Links.
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline