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13 December 1998 (USA)  »

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Maria Augusta Kutschera and Georg Ritter von Trapp Solve Quite a Few Problems
8 June 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Peter Graves narrates this well-written and directed (by Bruce Alfred) account of the lives and collective career of Maria Augusta Kutschera and Georg Ritter von Trapp and family, who triumph over many difficulties and hardships, before a fictionalized retelling of their compelling story reaches stage and screen, as "The Sound of Music."

This episode, separating some of the fact from fiction, begins in Austria with Maria Augusta Kutschera, who loses her mother at a young age, is deserted by her father, and reared by an abusive uncle, and becoming a difficult child in the process, before she is sent to Salzburg's Nonnberg Abbey, to study to become a Roman Catholic nun.

Georg Ritter von Trapp, meanwhile, serves as a submarine commander in the Austrian Navy, and is highly decorated for his World War I service, earning the title of Baron, before Austria loses its lands reaching the Dalmatian coastline and its Navy in the process.

Upon returning to retire in Salzburg with his seven young children, his wealthy wife, Agathe, succumbs to Scarlet Fever, which also affects his third child, Maria Franziska "Mitzi," who requires special care for recovery, and so Georg petitions Nonnberg Abbey to hire a governess.

Well, Nonnberg Abbey's Mother Superior has been having difficulty with nun-in-training Maria and sends her to care for von Trapp's Maria, bringing to the family the joy of singing and hope for the future once George proposes to Maria, who turns to Mother Superior for advice because she likes the children but not Georg very well.

Unlike fictional adaptations, Georg behaves very meekly and quietly, while Maria Augusta asserts a firm hand of stern discipline, while flinging items during fits of rage. Some of the children say that they would have preferred Georg to remain single if only to perpetuate the memory of their wonderful mother, Agathe.

After their 1926 wedding, Maria Augusta and Georg welcome three additional children, to amass a family of twelve although the youngest isn't yet born during their years together in Austria.

But when the bank containing the von Trapp fortune collapses, in 1932, Georg is at a loss to figure means of supporting the nine children, and so they lay off their domestic staff, move their quarters to the third floor of their mansion, and take in boarders, consisting of priests and students of the Catholic University.

And when Archbishop of Salzburg sends Father Franz Wasner to chaperon and to chaplain the students, he teaches the von Trapps how to perfect the singing and music playing proclivities which Maria has instilled since her arrival.

Father Franz Wasner then accompanies "Trapp Family Choir" to perform together in concerts, when Opera Singer Lottie Lehmann "discovers" them and helps them to become internationally recognized.

But when the German Army invades Austria to annex it, in 1938, and Georg Ritter von Trapp is sought to re-establish his Naval commission, each member of the family packs one suitcase plus musical gear, to flee the country for Italy and points beyond.

This covers the von Trapps' trail into England and the United States, where they are detained for three days on Ellis Island, before opportunity begins to strike again in New York City and their Vermont destination, to farm and to establish a musical camp during the years before establishing a skiing resort.

During this period, Maria Augusta pens her memoirs, for which she signs away publishing and motion picture rights, before Rodgers and Hammerstein create from this "The Sound of Music."

Interview Guests for this episode consist of Maria Franziska "Mitzi" von Trapp (Daughter), Rosemarie von Trapp (Daughter), Eleonore von Trapp Campbell (Daughter), Johannes von Trapp (Son), Hugh D. Campbell (Son-in-Law), Alix Williamson (Classical Music Publicist), Anna E. Crouse (wife of Russel Crouse), Reinhold Wagnleitner (Historian), and Theodore S. "Ted" Chapin (President and Executive Director of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization).

Archive footage includes Maria Augusta Kutschera von Trapp, Georg Ritter von Trapp, Rupert, Agathe, Maria, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna, Martina, Rosemarie, Eleonore and Johannes von Trapp, Father Franz Wasner, Peggy Wood, Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charmian Carr, Nicholas Hammond, Heather Menzies, Duane Chase, Angela Cartwright, Debbie Turner, Kym Karath, and Dinah Shore.

Film Clips include footage from von Trapp family home movies, plus scenes from "Die Trapp-Familie" (1956), and "The Sound of Music" (1965), as well as television's "Dinah!" (circa 1970's).


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