In a movie scene permanently etched in the minds of many, Julie Andrews holds a golden-haired girl close to her chest while hiding in the tomblike chamber of a convent in Austria. “You must be very quiet. Hold tight to me,” she says as SS soldiers rush into the room, boots pounding and whistles shrilling.
It might be easy to forget that “The Sound of Music” is based on a true story, but the von Trapps existed long before Rodgers and Hammerstein’s catchy tunes, and the family’s musical legacy lives on. In fact, the great-grandchildren of Georg von Trapp, the patriarchal captain — Sofia, 20; Melanie, 18; Amanda, 17, and Justin, 13 — have become singing sensations in their own right.
The young von Trapps tour nine months out of the schoolyear, and they visited the Holocaust Museum Houston earlier this summer before performing with the Houston Symphony on July 19.
While the four singers have been to Dachau, Sofia explains this was their first visit to a Holocaust museum. They were given a private tour, and Sofia described the visit as extremely moving. “It’s amazing to think that could have been our family had we not escaped in 1938,” she said, remarking on her great-grandfather’s refusal to lead a Nazi submarine fleet.
The von Trapps, who live in Kalispell, Mont., are taking a break for the rest of the summer and will begin touring again this fall.
This story "‘The Sound of Music’: A Family Tradition" was written by Olivia Wiznitzer.