The New York Times - Emma G. Fitzsimmons
February 23, 2014

Maria Franziska von Trapp, the last surviving sibling of seven brothers and sisters who were portrayed in the Broadway musical and the film “The Sound of Music,” died on Tuesday at her home in Stowe, Vt. She was 99.

Her death was confirmed by her half-brother, Johannes von Trapp.

She was the third oldest child of seven born to Baron Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe, who died of scarlet fever. The 1965 film was based on the real story of how the baron fell in love with the children’s governess, also named Maria, and the family toured together as a choir.

Ms. von Trapp was the reason the governess came to work for the family — she needed a tutor at home because she also had scarlet fever and was too ill to walk to school. After her father married the governess in 1927, they had three children together.

In the film, which starred Julie Andrews as the governess (Mary Martin played the role on Broadway), Ms. von Trapp was named Louisa and was played by Heather Menzies. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the score.

She and her siblings learned to play musical instruments at a young age, Ms. von Trapp wrote in an essay on the family’s website. “Sometimes our house must have sounded like a musical conservatory,” she wrote. “You could hear us practice piano, violin, guitar, cello, clarinet, accordion, and later, recorders.”

The family fled Nazi-occupied Austria and performed across Europe and the United States. They eventually settled in Stowe, where they bought a 660-acre farm that they later turned into a ski lodge.

The film was based on a book published in 1949 by the elder Maria von Trapp, who died in 1987. She had praised the film for truthfully showing her life story.

But the younger Ms. von Trapp told Reuters in 2008 that she and her siblings were shocked that the movie portrayed their father as strict and obsessed with discipline. He was “so completely different,” she said and “always looked after us a lot, especially after our mother died.”

She said on the family website that the movie was a musical and was “never meant to be a documentary about our life.”

Maria Franziska von Trapp was born on Sept. 28, 1914 in Zell am See, Austria. In addition to touring with the family choir, she worked as a lay missionary in Papua New Guinea. She adopted a son, Kikuli Mwanukuzi, after meeting him there. She eventually moved back to Vermont to be close to family.

She is survived by her son and three half-siblings: Mr. von Trapp, Rosmarie Trapp and Eleonore von Trapp Campbell.

In 2008, Ms. von Trapp traveled to Salzburg, Austria, to visit her family’s villa when it opened to the public for the first time as a hotel and museum. The family had lived there for more than a decade until the Nazis confiscated it in 1939.

She told Reuters that returning to the home had been an emotional experience.

“Our whole life is in here, in this house,” she said. “Especially here in the stairwell, where we always used to slide down the railings.”

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