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Maria von Trapp: last member of family group that inspired Sound of Music dies

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Published : 2014-02-23 14:11
Updated : 2014-02-23 14:11

Maria von Trapp in Salzburg, Austria, in 2008 .The last surviving member of the famous Trapp Family Singers has died aged 99. (AP)
The last surviving member of the famous Trapp Family Singers made famous in The Sound of Music has died at her home in Vermont, aged 99.

Von Trapp's brother, Johannes von Trapp, said she died on Tuesday. He called her a "lovely woman who was one of the few truly good people."

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 third child and second-oldest daughter of Austrian naval captain Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe Whitehead von Trapp.

Their seven children were the basis for the singing family in the 1959 Broadway musical and 1965 film, which won the Oscar for best picture. Maria von Trapp was portrayed as Louisa in the film (played by Heather Menzies) and musical.

The Sound of Music was based loosely on a 1949 book by Georg von Trapp's second wife, also Maria von Trapp, who died in 1987. It tells the story of an Austrian woman who married a widower with seven children and taught them music.

In 1938, the family escaped from Nazi-occupied Austria. After they arrived in New York, the family became popular with concert audiences. The family eventually settled in Vermont, where they opened a ski lodge in Stowe.

Maria von Trapp played accordion and taught Austrian dance with her sister Rosmarie at the lodge.

She wrote in a biography posted on the Von Trapp family's website that she was born in the Austrian Alps after her family fled fighting from the first world war and that she was surrounded by music growing up.

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

Her biography on the website also said that she 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 Maria von Trapp. (AP)

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