Skip to main content

With a runtime of 2 hours and 55 minutes, The Sound of Music covers a lot of ground. The movie discusses religion, family dynamics, political issues, and more. But, at its core, The Sound of Music is a love story. Viewers bare witness to Maria falling in love with the von Trapp children as well as their father, Captain von Trapp. But that’s not exactly how it happened in real life. In fact, the story of the real family von Trapp has been altered for film purposes. But which aspects of the story are accurate and which parts have been sensationalized for the movie?

The Sound of Music cast depicts the real family
Nicholas Hammond as Friedrich, Kym Karath as Gretl, Angela Cartwright as Brigitta, Julie Andrews as Maria, Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp, Charmian Carr as Liesl, Heather Menzies as Louisa, Debbie Turner as Marta and Duane Chase as Kurt |Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Most fans of The Sound of Music know that the film is based on a real family. However, they might not realize all the ways the film deviated from reality. For example, in the movie, the family consists of only seven children. However, the real family von Trapp boasted 10 children, three of whom were born after Maria and Georg got married. But what the film really altered was the personality of the Captain and his relationship with Maria.

‘The Sound of Music’ is based on a real family

The Sound of Music is mostly based on a memoir written by Maria von Trapp entitled The Story of the Trapp Family Singers which was published in 1949. According to Prologue Magazine, there were several elements of the memoir that were changed for the sake of the movie. For instance, Captain Georg von Trapp was not a hardened, authoritarian, disciplinarian as Christopher Plummer depicted him in the first half of the movie. Instead, the real Captain von Trapp was a very kind man who enjoyed singing and playing with his children prior to Maria’s arrival.

Another thing that The Sound of Music implied was that Georg and Maria fell in love very quickly after meeting. Lovers of the film will note that Maria confessed she knew she loved Georg the first time he blew that silly whistle while Georg shared he knew he loved her the first time she sat on the pine cone. But the real Maria certainly didn’t fall in love with Georg the first day she met him. In fact, she didn’t even love him when they tied the knot.

The real Maria von Trapp did not love Georg von Trapp when she married him

In her memoir, the real Maria wrote that during the time that she served as a tutor for one of the children (not as a governess as The Sound of Music depicted) Georg fell in love with her. While Maria fell in love with Georg’s children almost instantaneously, she didn’t have those same feelings for their father. In fact, when Georg asked her to marry him, she was conflicted. However, it was the way Georg phrased his proposal that ultimately made her accept his hand in marriage.


Julie Andrews on How Her Daughter Helped Her Cope With the Loss of Her Singing Voice

In his proposal, Georg implored Maria to stay with him and serve as a second mother to his children. “God must have made him word it that way because if he had only asked me to marry him I might not have said yes,” Maria shared in her book. She continued on to share that it was her love for the von Trapp children that made her get married. “I really and truly was not in love. I liked him but didn’t love him. However, I loved the children, so in a way I really married the children.”

Over time Maria developed love for more than just the children

But fans of The Sound of Music need not despair. The real Maria also shared that in time, she grew to truly love Georg. “[B]y and by I learned to love him more than I have ever loved before or after,” she wrote in her memoir. Clearly, the real family von Trapp has had their history rewritten for the sake of the movie. But it seems that they still managed to have a more realistic happy ending.