Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on May 24, 2011
“I’m Liesl. I’m sixteen years old, and I don’t need a governess!” So said Liesl in the “Sound of Music” stageplay back in the 1950s, and these famous words are being repeated right on down to the present time as hundreds of “Sound of Music” performances are given around the world! But in actuality, “Liesl” was not a name of a real von Trapp child. In fact, neither were Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta, or Gretl! When Howard Lindsey and Russell Crouse were writing the script for “The Sound of Music” Broadway production, they asked Maria von Trapp herself if she would prefer to keep the family’s original names. As happy as the von Trapps were to have their story told on stage, they also valued their privacy and requested that the children’s names be changed for the production. Georg’s and Maria’s names were kept, but Maria’s maiden name of “Kutschera” was re-written as “Maria Rainer.”
So what were the names of the real von Trapp family children? Starting with the oldest (who was actually a boy and the counterpart of Friedrich, not Liesl!)
- Rupert (born in 1911) – Was portrayed as Friedrich
- Agathe (born in 1913) – Was portrayed as Liesl
- Maria (born in 1914) – Was portrayed as Louisa
- Werner (born in 1915) – Was portrayed as Kurt
- Hedwig (born in 1917) – Was portrayed as Brigitta
- Johanna (born in 1919) – Was portrayed as Marta
- Martina (born in 1921) – Was portrayed as Gretl
Here’s a little known von Trapp trivia fact: While the name “Liesl” is not a real von Trapp name, daughter Maria von Trapp (portrayed as “Louisa”), had a favorite childhood doll named “Liesl”. Isn’t that hilarious?
During their childhood, each of the von Trapp children received an excellent education and were well-versed in music at a young age. Contrary to general thought, the von Trapps were extremely musical before Maria came to live with them, and their father once wrote a family letter stating that “Often times my children do nothing but make music all day long.” However, Maria Kutschera von Trapp did document that by the time she arrived as governess at the von Trapp villa, the Captain had given up playing the violin in his grief over his wife’s death. When Maria finally re-united the family in music-making, it was the violin, not the guitar, that the Captain returned to.
After Captain von Trapp and Maria were married in 1927, Maria gave birth to three more children, bringing the final number of von Trapp children up to ten! Maria von Trapp’s biological children were: Rosmarie (born in 1929), Eleonore (born in 1931), and Johannes (born in 1939). When the Captain died of lung cancer in 1947, Maria was pregnant with another baby. Tragically, she miscarried a few months later on account of kidney problems she had dealt with for years.
But even after the Captain’s passing, the children stayed in close contact, despite the fact that many of them lived on separate continents. After the “Von Trapp Family Singers” disbanded, the von Trapp “children” lived full and productive lives. Only one moved back to Austria permanently (Johanna), while the rest pursued careers in America, worked at the von Trapp Family Lodge, or did missions work overseas. And today, though the number of original von Trapps is dwindling, the family’s legacy goes on and continues to touch the hearts of millions all over the world.