Werner von Trapp 1915 - 2007

Werner von Trapp passed away at his home in Waitsfield, Vermont on October 11, 2007. He was 91.

Werner von TrappWerner von Trapp was born in Zell am See, Austria in 1915, the fourth child and second son of Captain Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe Whitehead. He studied cello at Salzburg’s Mozarteum in the 1930’s, and became proficient on several other instruments, as well as in the art of composing and arranging. He sang tenor with his family’s choir, The Trapp Family Singers, who won great acclaim throughout Europe after their debut in 1935.

In 1938, when von Trapp was 23, his family courageously escaped from Nazi occupied Austria. As refugees, the family arrived in New York where they quickly became popular with concert audiences. They performed in the U.S. and thirty other countries until 1956.

In 1943 von Trapp entered the U.S. Army, serving in Europe with the ski troops as part of the 10th Mountain Division. After the war, Werner von Trapp returned to his family’s farm in Stowe, Vermont and resumed touring with the family choir. On a hillside behind the family home, von Trapp built a stone chapel in thanksgiving for his safe return from wartime service. In 1948 he married Erika Klambauer, a childhood friend of his sister, Martina.

When the Trapp Family Singers retired from the stage, Werner von Trapp helped to found a music school in Reading, Pennsylvania called the Community School of Music. Several years later he brought his family back to the Green Mountain State and eventually settled on a dairy farm in Waitsfield. With the help of his wife and six children he farmed until his retirement in 1979. He then devoted his time to his family, to his love of traveling, and to his lifelong hobbies of weaving, spinning, and crocheting.

Despite his distinguished musical career, Werner von Trapp was a modest man with a humble response to his fame and musical and personal achievements.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Erika von Trapp, and by his six children, Barbara Crandall, Martin von Trapp, Bernhard von Trapp, Elisabeth von Trapp, Tobias von Trapp, Stefan von Trapp and their spouses, and by eighteen grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. He is survived also by his sisters, Agathe von Trapp, Maria von Trapp, Rosmarie von Trapp, and Eleonore Campbell, and by a brother Johannes von Trapp, and many nieces and nephews.

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