We think of The Sound Of Music as being all lonely goatherds and schnitzl with noodles and Edelweiss on Alpine hillsides. But it is, of course, a great American success story. The von Trapps fled over the mountains out of Austria and came down in the Green Mountains to settle in Central Vermont, build a thriving business and become a real part of Vermont life.
The last surviving son of Baron von Trapp’s first marriage, Werner (“Kurt” in the movie, as he was always obliged to explain), died at the end of last week. He was an odd mix of Mitteleuropean and Vermont dairy farmer. His daughter Elisabeth von Trapp sang on my BBC Christmas show a few years back and took part in a documentary I was involved in on The Sound Of Music. Her Christmas concerts in Vermont are one of the great joys of the season for us northern New Englanders. Elisabeth has eclectic tastes, but she does an affecting Vermont-folkie version of “Edelweiss” and a very jazzy “Favorite Things”. Werner’s grandchildren are the latest generation of Von Trapps to embrace the family tradition. The hills are still alive with the sound of music. They’re just a little westerly of the original slopes.