Johanna von Trapp
Johanna Karolina Gobertina Barbara von Trapp

(1919-09-07)7 September 1919
Died25 November 1994(1994-11-25) (aged 75)
(m. 1948)
Parent(s)Georg von Trapp
Agathe Whitehead

Johanna Karolina Gobertina Barbara (Franziska) von Trapp (7 September 1919 – 25 November 1994) was the sixth child of Georg Ritter von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe Whitehead. She was a member of the Trapp Family Singers, whose lives were the inspiration for the play and film The Sound of Music.[1] She was portrayed as the character "Marta".

Early life

Johanna was born on September 7, 1919 at the "Erlhof" by Zell am See in Austria, as the fourth daughter of Georg and Agathe von Trapp and first child after World War I. She had brown hair and brown eyes, and grew up in Zell am See with her siblings: Rupert (1911–1992) Agathe (1913–2010), Maria Franziska (1914–2014), Werner (1915–2007) and Hedwig (1917–1972). The last child, Martina (1921–1951), was born in Klosterneuburg by Wien (Austria). During the war (WWI) Georg, Agathe and their children, unable to stay at their home in Pola, Istria (today Croatia) came to live with her mother, Countess Agathe Whitehead (née Breunner-Enkevoirth), at Whitehead summer home, the "Raingut" in Erlberg (by Zell am See).The family then moved from Zell-am-See to Klosterneuburg, because their home became flooded and was no longer inhabitable. In 1922, when Johanna was three years old, her mother died of scarlet fever. Many years later she still recalled looking out the children's nursery window to see a black coach drawn by black horses come to carry her mother to her final resting place in Klosterneuburg. Her childhood was structured by nannies and spent playing with her younger sisters, while the older siblings were going to school. In 1925 Georg moved the family to Salzburg-Aigen. He had purchased and rebuilt a house that now became their new home. In 1927, Georg Johannes von Trapp was married for the second time to Maria Augusta Kutschera. Three more children were born into the von Trapp family: Rosemarie (1929), Eleonore (1931), and Johannes (1939).[2]


The Trapp family rehearsing before a concert, near Boston, 27 September 1941.
The Trapp family rehearsing before a concert, near Boston, 27 September 1941.

The family left Austria in the summer of 1938 and returned to the US in 1939 after a brief visit to Austria.[3] Just 20 years old, departing Oct. 27th from Bergensford (Sweden) on the 'American Farmer' she and her family began an uncertain unknown journey. Their arrival in the United States began with a stay at Ellis Island, from where they were admitted and shortly thereafter began recording the first album released by RCA. Johanna sang first soprano in the family chorus, together with her sister Agathe von Trapp. After World War II ended, the Trapp family held summer music camps in Stowe Vermont, at which Johanna von Trapp taught aspiring musicians the recorder, cooked for the camp guests and her family. She was secretary of the Trapp Family Austrian Relief, Inc., co-founded by her father Captain Georg von Trapp, to aide his fellow Austrians caught in dire post WWII needs. Their relief effort partnered with CARE (Cooperative for American Remittance to Europe and now Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere) to send relief packages of food and clothing to Austria. From 1946 to 1950 they sent a total of 275,000 pounds of material. Throughout her singing career and later during her married life, Johanna found time to express her other artistic talents, working with ceramics, sketching and painting water colors. She became a naturalized United States citizen in 1948.

Johanna von Trapp married Ernst Florian Winter on Easter Monday in 1948 and changed her middle name to Franziska. She had seven children: Ernst Leopold (1949–1969), Florian Stefan (1951), Johanna Maria (1952), Notburga Maria (1953), Hemma Maria (1956), Agathe (1957) and Severin (1959). She lived with her family – four daughters and three sons – in both the United States (West Nyack, NY) and Austria (Salzburg, Schloss Eichbuechl N.O.). With Ernst Florian, she raised her children in an organic homesteading tradition incorporating her rich European heritage into family life. She was known for her hosting, cooking and preparing feast day meals that often were shared with upwards of 50 guests. Her indomitable go-to spirit and ability to persevere through the loss of her oldest son from a car accident, showed her strength and resilience. She was known to her children as the story teller of her childhood life in the von Trapp family. Approaching life with a great sense of humor and faith, carried her throughout her life.

During her later years, she focused on painting watercolors and sharing with an up-and-coming younger audience of Sound of Music performers, the true life story behind the musical. Her artwork charmingly expresses flora and fauna in colorful vignettes with an Edelweiss series as a tribute to her father whom she adored and respected. With her sisters Agathe and Maria, Johanna held an exhibition of their combined works of art, in Salzburg 1993. The following year, she died in Vienna after the effects of a stroke, at the age of 75. Her final resting place is with her husband Ernst Florian Winter (1923–2014) and oldest son, Ernst Leopold, at Gersthof, Vienna, Austria.


  1. ^ Crook III, Lawrence. "Maria von Trapp, Last of Famous Singing Siblings, Dies at 99". Atlanta, Georgia: CNN, February 24, 2014.
  2. ^ Wild, Wolfgang. "The True Story Behind 'The Sound of Music': Solving a problem like the real Maria". New York, New York: Mashable, retrieved online August 29, 2018.
  3. ^ Nemethy, Andrew. "Trapp Family Lodge: A kick and glide legacy, now 50 years old". Stowe, Vermont: Stowe Today, January 25, 2018.

Further reading