The Story of the Trapp Family Singers Essay - Critical Context

Maria Augusta Trapp

Critical Context

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers was a very popular book when it was first published in 1949, and it has since been translated into several languages, including French, German, Italian, and Norwegian. It was not until the film version of the Trapp family’s experiences appeared in 1965 that the account was published under the title The Sound of Music (1965). Trapp went on to write other books about herself and her family, including Yesterday, Today, and Forever (1952). A Family on Wheels: Further Adventures of the Trapp Family Singers (1959), and Maria (1972). All these works discuss Trapp’s religious devotion and her family’s Christian lifestyle.

Trapp also published several books, some in German, that incorporated music. In 1955, she produced Around the Year with the Trapp Family, which was illustrated by Rosemary Trapp and Nikolaus E. Wolfe. Trapp also published Weihnachtslieder der Trapp-Familie (1957; Christmas carols of the Trapp family), which was illustrated by Agathe Trapp, and Feste und Feiren mit der Trapp-Familie (1960; feasts and festivals with the Trapp family). All three texts include songs that were selected and arranged for voice and piano by Franz Wasner.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers belongs to the genre of uplifting true stories. The Trapps, reeling from the death of their mother, found salvation in her replacement, saw the rise of Nazi Germany, barely escaped to the United States, plummeted from great wealth to poverty, and survived with their love and values intact. Young adults may see the Trapps as a metaphor of endurance as they become caught up in this family’s struggles. Against the backdrop of war, the young reader’s attention is riveted by Trapp’s compelling narrative.