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Maria Von Trapp

Last survivor of family that inspired The Sound of Music.

Born: September 28, 1914; Died: February 18, 2014

Maria Von Trapp, who has died aged 99, was the last surviving member of the seven original Trapp Family Singers made famous in The Sound Of Music.

The family won acclaim throughout Europe for their singing and escaped from Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938. Their story was turned into the film and Broadway musical. Maria von Trapp was the second-eldest girl and was portrayed as Louisa in the film

She was born in the Austrian Alps the third child and second-oldest daughter of Austrian Naval Captain Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe Whitehead von Trapp. The family would later become famous for what happened to them in the run-up to the Second World War but Von Trapp said the family had also moved to Austria to escape fighting in the First World War

She was brought up in Salzburg where the family lived in a villa in an upmarket part of the city. She remembered being surrounded by music as she grew up.

"Father played the violin, accordion and mandolin," she said. "Mother played piano and violin. I have fond memories of our grandmother playing the piano for us after meals."

It was Von Trapp's ill health when she was a child that led to her father employing a governess to teach her and her siblings. "She came to us as my teacher," said Von Trapp, "and after three years became our second mother."

When the Second World War broke out, the Von Trapps' home was confiscated by the Nazis and SS chief Heinrich Himmler moved in. The Nazis also built barracks in the garden.

In 1938, the family had escaped from Austria and performed concert tours throughout Europe and then a three-month tour in America. They moved to Vermont in 1942 after visiting during the singing tour. The family opened and still operates a lodge there.

Their story was turned into a Broadway musical in 1959 and a 1965 film, which won the Oscar for best picture.

The film was based loosely on a 1949 book by the governess, who became Capt von Trapp's second wife; she died in 1987.

Maria von Trapp played accordion and taught Austrian dance with sister Rosmarie at the Vermont ski lodge. She also worked as a lay missionary in Papua, New Guinea.

Rosmarie von Trapp, Johannes von Trapp and Eleonore Von Trapp Campbell were born to Georg von Trapp and his second wife.

Johannes von Trapp said of Maria: "There wasn't a mean or miserable bone in her body."

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