If you’ve seen The Sound of Music, then you’ve heard of the Trapp Family Singers (sometimes billed as the Trapp Family Choir). This large Austrian family of musicians rose to prominence during the Second World War, and their story became emblematic of the struggle for life meaningfully lived under fascism. On the evening of November 6, 1939, the Trapp Family Choir performed their unique repertoire of sacred, secular, and folk songs at BAM.
The Trapp family had been on tour for nearly a year, after permanently leaving the Austrian Anschluss. Alas, contrary to the final scene of The Sound of Music, they did not “climb ev’ry mountain” and flee the Nazis by night, singing all the while. Instead they boarded a train in the middle of the day, after having signed all the requisite papers. With tour dates booked, contracts signed, and benefactors waiting in cities across Europe and the US, they landed in Ellis Island in late October and within days were filling BAM’s Music Hall with songs like “Innsbruck, Ich Muss Dich Lassen,” and madrigals such as “Now Is the Month of Maying.”
|The Trapp Family, circa mid-1940s|