Upon meeting Maria von Trapp, the 94 year old daughter of Baron von Trapp, one is immediately smitten. She is such an engaging and gracious woman that it’s easy to become enthralled with what she has to say. Although her family’s story has been well documented through books and the famous movie, “The Sound of Music,” Maria has released a new book that goes in a different direction. The book, entitled, My Favorite Songs, is a collection of childhood Austrian folk songs that Maria has translated into English.
As kids the Trapp family sang all the time. According to Maria her reason for writing the book is to get families singing again which she hopes will result in making them closer. The book is filled with 34 childhood songs with pictures of her family and narratives about life growing up as a von Trapp. My Favorite Songs is also a family affair with the “von Trapp Children Singers,” her grandnieces and grandnephew, singing the songs on the CD that comes with the book. The book also includes artwork supplied by Maria’s niece, Georgia von Trapp.
The collection of songs range from those that teach children their vowels entitled, “A, A, A, the Cat Went on Her Way;” to one entitled, “Be True and Practice Righteousness,” a song that touches on spirituality which is a big part of Maria’s life especially when she was a missionary in New Guinea, “teaching children, helping with minor medical work, and of course, teaching them to sing!” When asked what is her favorite song she gives the correct answer: “Of course all of them!” But when pressed she concedes that the song entitled; “Little Hans” is her favorite. “Little Hans” is about a boy who leaves home to come back a few years later. At first, his sister doesn’t recognize him, but his mother does and welcomes him back with open arms.
Reading the narratives about life growing up as a von Trapp provides one with further insight on the now famous family. The narratives are also just plain fascinating. My Favorite Songs is a book to be used by the entire family no matter the age. And if Maria had her way, the family would sing the songs together.
Since I was interviewing a von Trapp I had a curiosity that went beyond My Favorite Songs and Maria was gracious to indulge questions that asked about her childhood. I asked Maria if she could tell me her favorite childhood memory. She told me about her father and how he used to allow her to ride on top of him like a rider on a horse.
And did her father use that whistle in real life as he did in the movie to call the children? Yes, and as the third child in the family her signal was one low with three high sounds. “But he never made us march around,” as the movie suggested, she explained.
I concluded my interview with linzertorte, an Austrian dessert that Maria offered me. It was a perfect end to an interview where I got the opportunity to meet an incredible lady.