The Music of Adversity- Revised and Updated!

11 07 2018

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As many of you know, I presented this article last week. Last Thursday I received a phone call from Carla von Trapp Hunter. Carla is a great-granddaughter of Baron Captain Georg von Trapp and his second wife Baroness Maria Augusta von Trapp. Carla was very gracious with me as she told me that she saw last week’s copy of my Cape May County Herald article. Carla did mention that while she loved the sentiment and the overall positive purpose of my writing, there were some discrepancies that she had hoped I would fix and correct the errors. I was quick to apologize and offered my services to do whatever I could to make things right. So here it is for Carla’s approval and our further education. While movies and literature take many creative liberties, the truth is still the truth and literally the best path to journey upon. I have asked Carla to join me on an upcoming Rudy on the Radio Broadcast. I do hope she will!

My Mother got a big kick out of the fact that I got to talk to Carla von Trapp Hunter last week. Before she took on the role of Mom, Joanne Tedesco was preparing to be a Nun in the Convent. While she left before taking her final vows, her devotion to God never wavered. When the Movie, “The Sound of Music” came out in the mid 1960’s, she resonated with it from head to toe. I think she dragged us kids to see it about seven times in less than two weeks. This included packing the family Station Wagon and going to the local Drive-In. Seeing the film wasn’t enough for Mom as she proceeded to line us all up when we got home and made us sing, “Do-Re-Mi!” You guessed it! I was “Doe a Deer!” While many of you know a little of the real-life story of the Trapp Family Singers; it does all come back to me every time The Sound of Music repeats on television.

Many of you know that this Julie Andrews Classic Rodgers and Hammerstein Musical was based upon a real story not about the Sheptocks but the von Trapp Family. The patriarch of this Austrian singing family was Georg Ritter von Trapp (1880–1947), who served the 20th century Austro-Hungarian Navy for 24 years and was one of their most decorated commanders. When von Trapp lost his wife Agathe to a scarlet fever epidemic in 1922, he became the sole parent of seven children. One of his daughters who had also come down with the fever was slow to recover and had fallen behind on her studies. To help her catch up Georg hired Maria Augusta Kutschera, a convent novitiate, as the child’s math tutor. I can hear her sing, “I’ve Got Confidence” in my imagination even as I write this.

Five years after Agathe passed, Georg married Maria, who was henceforth known as Baroness Maria Augusta von Trapp. Maria was later portrayed as Maria Rainer in “The Sound of Music.” Here is something not everyone knows. Maria had three children that were not represented in the film. This would have made 10 von Trapp’s altogether and not just the seven portrayed in the film. But here is a very real fact and that is the von Trapp’s home was always filled with music, and the children learned to sing and harmonize at a professional level. The von Trapp Family performed in concert halls and festivals, becoming famous all over Europe.

During the 1930s, Georg Ritter von Trapp watched the rise of Nazism with sober alarm. When the Nazi’s annexed Austria in 1938, the von Trapp’s knew there had to be some major decisions made about their future. Georg not only refused to fly the Nazi flag on their house, but he also refused to sing at Hitler’s Birthday Party. When offered, Georg refused to serve the party’s military efforts. The von Trapp’s weighed their options, deciding as a family that although it was heart wrenching to leave their home and everything familiar, they would not compromise their values. They up and left their beloved Austria by train heading to the Italian coast where they lived and toured from until they could secure a concert tour in America, providing them an escape from the continent. Instead of the fictional Uncle Max Detweiler, the overbearing musical promoter, it was actually the Family Priest, the Reverend Franz Wasner who would act as their musical director for over twenty years.   

When they arrived in America in 1939 by steam ship, there were nine children with the tenth on the way. They continued touring internationally as the Trapp Family Singers, performing frequently to make ends meet. In 1941, they would buy a large farm in Vermont in a countryside very similar to the Austrian landscape near Salzburg that they missed so terribly. The farmhouse they lived in was called “Cor Unum” which means, “One Heart” which they felt was symbolic of how they operated together as individuals forming one unit. They rented out the rooms in their home during the months they were away on tour and then increasingly so when skiing started to become popular in Stowe. When their singing career came to an end in 1956, after nearly twenty years of concerts in almost thirty countries, Maria returned to Stowe full-time to run what had since become a popular place to stay. Tragically, on December 20, 1980, Trapp Family Lodge burned to the ground. Maria and the children were devastated. They had endured so many trials and tribulations during their days and now there was yet one more mountain to climb. The lodge was gone. In their discouragement, they questioned whether they should rebuild.

As Providence designed it, the von Trapp Family Motto was already in place. In Latin it is, “Nec Aspera Terrent” meaning, ‘Hardships Do Not Deter Us’; or also translated as ‘Let nothing difficult frighten thee.’ The von Trapp’s heeded those words and persisted.

“Do Not Be Terrified By Adversity.” This has been one of the great lessons we have been learning in the Book of Job as I have preached through these treasured Scriptures at the Lighthouse Church. Adversity doesn’t mean the absence of God’s presence in your life. Adversity doesn’t mean that the Lord is punishing you or withholding his love. Adversity is just one more aspect of every individual’s adventure. Adversity doesn’t mean defeat. Adversity could very well be the launch to a depth in your life that could not be developed any other way through any other means. God will use adversity if you choose to look up rather than give up. The only way to avoid adversity is to check out rather than show up! What music is flowing from your story because you refused to allow any enemy force to steal your song?

One of my favorite songs from “The Sound Of Music” is “Climb Every Mountain.” Mother Superior sings it to Maria when she seeks to escape life rather than live it to the fullest. The lyrics include these inspirational words. “A dream that will need all the love you can give. Every day of your life for as long as you live.” Do not be terrified by adversity. Expect it and use it to grow up in your faith. If you are willing to go the distance, you too will add walking with Jesus as one of your favorite things! It surely is for me!

Thanks again to Carla von Trapp Hunter for making me dig a little deeper. I actually had the Movie, “The Sound of Music” on while I rewrote and revised this and it made me smile big. It also reminded me of the crush I had on Angela Cartwright back then! Please don’t ever erase the sounds of songs in your life and delete the tunes in your world. God gave us the ability to sing even as our hearts break and our feet dig in to stand our ground to hold fast to our convictions. When the world tries to force you to croon a melody that compromises everything you are, don’t you dare. The music of adversity is our ability to standardize our signature tune. Music and passion are always in fashion in me. How about you? 

 


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