The Trapp Family and The Sound of Music: An immigrant success story

The Trapp Family and The Sound of Music: An immigrant success story

The Trapp family’s history is an immigrant success story filled with overcoming hardships and adapting to the realities of the new land and culture. While the real-life story outlines of the Trapp family match sound of Music, the film It ended when the family’s immigration journey to America began.

Maria von Trapp, played by Julie Andrews in the film, worked and fell in love with the children, married the captain and the family left Austria. However, Hollywood movies and real life are not the same. The family did not like the portrayal of George, the father/captain, who, according to Maria and the children, was loving and extroverted, not as strict and aloof as portrayed in the movie.

Maria was religious, as the movie showed. “The only thing that matters to us on earth is to know what God’s will is and to do it,” she wrote in her diary. The story of the Trapp family singers. Maria remembered saying these words to the Reverend Mother shortly before she was appointed tutor to Baron von Trapp, who would become her future husband. Contrary to portrayal in the movie, Maria was not the nanny for all the children, and she married George more than a decade before World War II. She wrote in her diary that her love of children inspired her to marry George. There were 10 children instead of the seven portrayed in the movie.

The family became a singer and toured Paris, London, Brussels and other places, even singing to the Pope. The war interrupted their musical ambitions in Austria.

On March 11, 1938, the family celebrated the birthday of their daughter Agatha. Over the radio, they heard the Chancellor of Austria say, โ€œI bow to the force. Austria is my countryโ€”God bless you!โ€ The next morning, Maria saw German soldiers โ€œon every street corner.โ€

Trapp’s children felt the impact of the Nazi takeover of Austria. Children were prohibited from singing songs at school with the word Christ or Christmas in the name. Soon after the takeover, daughter Lorelei told Maria that her first-grade teacher wanted to talk to her. The teacher told Maria, “When we learned our new anthem yesterday, Lorelei didn’t open her mouth. When I asked her why she didn’t sing with us, she announced to the whole class that her father said he put a ground cup in the tea or ended his life on a dung pile before he sang that song.” Next time I’ll have to report this.” Lorelei also refused to raise her hand in the “Heil Hitler” salute. Maria feared that the family would be placed in a concentration camp.

The Austrian Navy Ministry asked Georg to come out of retirement and command a submarine. Soon, the Trapp family was asked to sing at Adolf Hitler’s birthday celebration. Either way, George’s answer was “no.”

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After this rejection, George brings the family together for a pivotal moment in their lives. โ€œChildren, we have the choice now: do we want to keep the material goods we still have, our house with old furniture, our friends, all the things we love?โ€”then we have to give up the spiritual good: our faith and our honor. We can’t have both anymore. We can all Make a lot of money now, but I doubt very much whether it will make us happy. I’d rather see you poor but honest. If we choose this, we should leave. Do you agree?”

The children answered, “Yes, Dad.”

So let’s get out of here soon,” said George. “You can’t say no three times to Hitler.”

Real life is different from the movie sound of Music. Joanne Geren writes: “The family did not secretly flee across the Alps to freedom in Switzerland, carrying their bags and musical instruments.”And the Archive Officer at the National Archives and Records Administration. As her daughter Maria said in a 2003 interview printed in opera news‘We told people we were going to America to sing. And we didn’t climb mountains with all our bags and heavy equipment. We left by train, pretending nothing.”

Gern points out that the family traveled to Italy, not Switzerland. George, Maria’s husband, was an Italian citizen by birth. “The family had entered into a contract with an American booking agent when they left Austria,” writes Gern. “They called the agent from Italy and asked for the fare to America.”

Maria describes their first impressions of America. “Dazed – utterly confused – that’s what we were all for when three taxis spilled on us on Seventh Avenue at 55The tenth Street . . . All instruments in their cases. . . Great trunks with party costumes and our specials. . . The tallest houses in Vienna are five or six stories high. When we took the elevator to 19The tenth Word, we simply couldn’t believe it.”

The family began a series of concerts, but their agent, Mr. Wagner, canceled the remaining tour events when he found out that Maria was eight months pregnant. โ€œWhat a hit! “Fewer concerts meant less money, and we needed every cent,” Maria writes. She gave birth to a son, Johannes, around Christmas.

Money became a problem because what the family earned mostly went to pay for Mr. Wagner’s boat tickets, which he had already paid in advance. Their visitor visa expired in March. The visa stipulated that they could only earn money by performing concerts. Fortunately, the family agent arranged more concert dates. However, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) thwarted those plans.

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“One morning came the fatal letter,” writes Maria. โ€œIND informed us that our application for extension of temporary residence was not accepted, and we had to leave the US on 4 March at the latest. This was a heavy blow. We have burned all our bridges behind, we will never dare to come home again, and now they will not allow us America to stay here. . . . one thing was certain: we had to leave.โ€

The family traveled by boat to Europe and gave small concerts in Sweden and elsewhere. The German invasion of Poland in September 1939 interrupted their concert plans.

Their agent, Mr. Wagner, made another advance for tickets to the United States, which meant that the family was headed back to America. After arriving at the pier in Brooklyn, Maria makes a mistake that almost cost the family their sanctuary. When the immigration officer asked Maria how long she intended to stay in America, instead of saying “six months,” Maria said, “I’m glad to be here – I want to never leave again!”

This mistake led to the family being placed in immigration detention. Journalists and photographers came to Ellis Island and published articles about the Trapp family. After the fourth day, the family was questioned at an immigration court hearing, focusing on whether they planned to leave. Looking at the judge’s tone, Maria was pessimistic after the hearing. Perhaps only due to external pressure and publicity, the family was released from detention.

During their second tour in America, the family learned the hard facts about show business. Their agent, Mr. Wagner, made an appointment for them in large concert halls, but did a poor job of publicizing the events. Wagner told the family that he didn’t think they had enough appeal to the American public and decided not to renew his contract to represent them. Without representation, the Trapp family had no chance of success and no way to survive in America. The family had reached another moment of crisis.

With a lot of effort, they found another potential factor. However, he said his acting was contingent on changing the family’s behavior to attract a wider American audience, not just those primarily interested in choral or classical music. He told them he would need $5,000 up front for advertising. At the time, the family only had $250 in their bank account. The entrepreneurial family began to operate. They met a wealthy couple who, after hearing their story and listening to them sing, promised to lend them half the money. The Trapp family found another sponsor for $2,500. They are back to work.

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Their new agent changed the name from the Trapp Family Choir, which he considered sounding “severely churchy,” to the Trapp Family Singers Band. To earn money before the new round started, the family made handicrafts, such as children’s furniture, wooden bowls, and leatherwork.

The family’s entrepreneurial streak continued when they bought a farm in Vermont and added a music camp to the land. During World War II, the family clashed with government regulators at the War Production Board, who said the family had used “new” wood instead of “used” wood in violation of the law. Maria thought she would be put in jail until the organizers relented after explaining to them that the lumber had been purchased 18 months earlier. The Vermont governor attended the campground’s grand opening, which featured the Trapp family singing the banner of twinkling stars. Today, the farm and residences are still a tourist attraction.

Two of the Trapp family have returned to Europe – they fought as soldiers in the US Army during World War II. It was a ridiculous distortion. Instead of pressuring their father to serve as a submarine commander in the German war effort, the sons fought against Germany in Western Europe. After the war, the family reclaimed ownership of their Austrian home, which was expropriated to serve as the seat of (SS Reich Leader) Heinrich Himmler. The family sold the house to a church group and raised funds to help Austrians suffering from poverty due to the war and occupation of Germany.

The Trapp family overcame a tragedy in America. In 1947, George’s husband, Mariah, died. He died of pneumonia surrounded by his family.

The Trapp family continued to perform, eventually hiring outside performers to replace some of the children who had moved on to other careers in America, including medicine. Great-grandchildren Maria and George continue to sing in America.

Maria von Trapp’s proudest day in America came in 1948, when she became an American citizen. โ€œThen came the important day in May when we were summoned to the courtroom in Montpellier โ€“ five years of waiting to be over,โ€ Maria writes. “What a mixed group, waiting there in the courtroom: the Italians, the Croats, the Syrians, the English, the Irish, the Poles, we Austrians. The clerk called a roll. Then the judge entered the room. We all got up from our seats. Then he asked us to raise our right hand and repeat Solemn oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America After we finished, “God help me,” the judge ordered us to sit down, and he looked at us all, and said, “Citizens. He meant us–now we’re Americans.”

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