Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers is a chronological account of a portion of the life of Maria Augusta Trapp, beginning with her late teens and concluding with the death of her husband and the naming of their family’s new home in Stowe, Vermont, as “Cor Unum” (one heart). The first part of this autobiography is set in Austria between the World Wars and ends with the increasing dominance of a Nazi agenda, which precipitates the family’s seeking refuge in the United States. The second half of the book chronicles the difficulties of the family in surviving as an artistic unit. Events, places, and personalities are filtered through the author’s memory, and family photographs are interspersed throughout the text.

The reader might wish that there were photographs of the young Trapp, an enthusiastic, if not always disciplined, aspirant in the great Abbey of Nonnberg. Because she had certain difficulties in adjusting to the regimen of the convent, Trapp was sent back into the world to teach an invalid daughter of Captain von Trapp, with the promise that her dream of life as a nun had been deferred, not denied. Her most heartfelt prayer, as she settled into life at the Villa von Trapp, was that the captain would find a suitable mother for his seven lonely children.

Because the children’s history had been full of sadness and discord, Trapp hit upon music as the way to make them a loving community. Drawing upon her knowledge of...

(The entire section is 470 words.)