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On the trail of the von Trapp family.

Ebner's Waldhof in Fuschl am See: the ideal starting point for your sound of music discovery tour.

Sound of Music the true story

The Sound of Music was and still is the most successful musical film ever produced. The film was generally based on a book written by Maria von Trapp published in 1949. But how close is the film's story line to reality? There are a few discrepancies which could be of interest to true Sound of Music fans.

Maria and the children

At the start of the film Maria’s history is pretty accurate. She was born in Vienna and became an orphan as a young child. After graduating from college she entered the Benedictine Abbey of Nonnberg in Salzburg as a novice. However, Maria came to the von Trapp family in 1926 as a tutor for one of the children, Maria, who was recovering from scarlet fever, not as governess to all the children. At this point the children had already lost their mother, she died of scarlet fever in 1922.

Maria and Georg actually married in 1927, 11 years before the family left Austria, not right before the Nazi takeover of Austria. I think we all agree the film version with the beautiful wedding seen in St. Michaels Church in Mondsee is far more romantic! After they were married Georg and Maria had three children together: Rosmarie, Eleonore, and Johannes.

Georg - Baron von Trapp

Georg's life in the film is pretty accurately portrayed. He was born in 1880, became a national hero as a captain in the Austrian Navy during World War I. He commanded submarines and received the title of "Ritter" (the equivalent of the "Sir," but commonly translated as "Baron") as a reward for his heroic accomplishments. After World War I, Austria lost all of its sea ports, and Georg retired from the navy. When his wife died the family was devastated and decided to move from their home in Pula (now part of Croatia) to Salzburg for a new and hopefully happier future. The family was musically inclined before Maria arrived, but she did teach them to sing madrigals. Baron von Trapp is portrayed in the film as being a cold-hearted patriarch who disapproved of the singing, in fact he was quite the opposite: he loved singing with his children and was a very warm-hearted and loving father. Maria’s character on the other hand seems somewhat softer and more loving than she perhaps was in reality! True to the story line the Baron was critical of the Nazi regime: he not only refused to fly the Nazi flag on their house, but also declined a naval command and a request to sing at Hitler's birthday party.

Fleeing from a Nazi regime

As depicted in The Sound of Music, the family won first place in the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936, although the songs they sung at the festival were changed for the film. The famous Felsenreitschule concert hall in Salzburg was used as the setting for this scene in the film. Due to the family's success at the festival Maria and Georg began to think of their music as a way of getting them and the family out of Austria.

The film’s biggest deviation from the true story is the way the family's “escape” is portrayed in the film. The family did not secretly escape over the Alps to freedom in Switzerland carrying their suitcases and musical instruments. They actually left Austria by train and their friends and relatives were informed of their decision. Also the von Trapps travelled to Italy not to Switzerland. From Italy they continued on to America. This is where the film story ends.

No matter what the history books tell us, hardened Sound of Music fans all over the world love the movie just the way it is and a visit to Salzburg is something most fans dream of. When you look out over the lake from your balcony at the four star Superior Hotel Ebner’s Waldhof in Fuschl am See you can almost hear the dulcet tones of the “Hills are alive” and imagine just how Maria felt! Fuschl am See is a charming village ideally situated for your Sound of Music discovery tour.

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The Von Trapp Family in Salzburg Austria : The real Story
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