Honoring the von Trapp
and Whitehead Heritage
Entwurf für 'Schubert am Klavier'
Study for Schubert at the piano
1898 by Gustav Klimt
Photos: Courtesy of von Trapp family
Photo: Courtesy of book
Aus Dem Fotoalbum von Richard Schuster 1914-1917
by Bruno Dobrić, Zvonimit Freivogel, Andrej Bader
August von Trapp (1836-1884) and Hedwig Wepler (1855-1911), originally from the Duchy of Hesse (today Hesse, Germany), migrated to the Adriatic Coast to follow August's Austrian Naval Career. They both were passionate about music and arts, creating a family life filled with piano playing and singing. August had musical auditory memory, whereby he could attend the Opera and then later delight his family by replaying the new tunes from memory on their piano. His mother created folk art and in her family, each sibling was musically trained and often played together with family & friends.
Minna Wepler (his mother's sister) was from the Duchy of Hesse (today Hesse, Germany*). She attended The Music Conservatory in Weimar and became a professional pianist; her name and performances appeared in the newspapers.
Clementine Emilie Nahl (1783–1832) was from Kassel, Duchy of Hesse (today in Germany*). She aspired to be a singer before marriage, but did pursue painting and poetry. She came from the artistic dynasty 'Nahl Family', dating back to the 1600's in a long line of artists and craftsmen. Her brother was painter Wilhelm Nahl. Her father was Johann II August Nahl (1752-1825), born in Clanne bei Bern, Switzerland and held a career in the Kingdom of Prussia as a painter and sculptor, as well as the Painting Director at the Academy in Kassel.
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FAMILY HISTORY: Music and Art Heritage
© 2016-2018 Stichting Georg & Agathe Foundation. All rights reserved.
composed, provided entertainment and tutored their daughters Maria and Karoline in piano playing and singing. This allowed him freedom to compose several compositions both for the family as well as, for his personal repertoire including "four-hand" piano style for two people playing the same piano together. Although unsubstantiated, it was later speculated that perhaps Schubert had an unrequited love for their daughter Karoline. Outside his tutoring, their paths did cross in Viennese life. At his end, a few months before his death between January and April 1828, he dedicated the song "Fantasy in F minor" to her. Seventy years later, when Austrian artist Gustav Klimt was commission by Nikolaus Dumba to paint the Music Room at the Palace Dumba in Vienna, Klimt chose the subject matter of Schubert at the Esterházy home in Zseliz, surrounded by the Countesses.
Photo: Public Domain
Photo: ©Georg & Agathe Foundation
*The unification of Germany was in 1871, after their lifetime
Georg von Trapp
Georg von Trapp (1880-1947) was born in Zara, Dalmatia on the Adriatic Coast, Austro-Hungarian Empire (today Zadar, Croatia). Georg loved to make music and sing. He played the violin & fiddle, guitar, mandolin, harmonica, and accordion. During his naval career, he enriched his musical repertoire with many folk songs from the empire, passing these on to his children. Personally teaching his children Rupert and Maria the accordion, Agathe the guitar, and Johanna the violin, he also afforded all his children formal music lessons. Martina and Hedwig learned the piano and Werner learned the cello and clarinet. The family loved making music all together daily. They formed a small family Quartet consisting of Georg as first violin, Johanna as second violin, Rupert or Maria on accordion, and Agathe on guitar.
Hede von Trapp (1877-1947) was born in Pola on the Adriatic Coast, Austro-Hungarian Empire (today Pula, Croatia). She was an Austrian poet, painter and graphic designer of the Art Nouveau movement. She studied in the master class of the Berlin painter Erich Ludwig Stahl and is considered an autodidact. Her early childhood was spent in Pola, Austria-Hungary (today Pula, Croatia) on the Adriatic coast. After 1884, she lived in Graz, Austria. Around 1896, Hede graduated with a teaching degree from the ‘Officer’s Daughters Institute of Education’ in Vienna. She never became a teacher, instead focused on writing and illustrating her own books, later creating jewelry. Her poems and art work were published in books and shown at exhibitions. Her works are in, among others, the Museum for Applied Art, Vienna, the Austrian National Library, Vienna, the Kunstbibliothek, Berlin and the Gutenberg-Museum, Mainz, Germany. She lived her last years in Korneuburg, Austria where today their is the street "Hede-von-Trapp-Straße" named after her.
John Whitehead (1854-1902) and Countess Agathe Gobertina von Breunner (1856-1945) lived in Fiume on the Adriatic Coast, Austro-Hungarian Empire (today Riejka, Croatia), but were British and Austro-Hungarian respectively. They instilled a love for music and arts in their children. John created beautiful, accurate technical engineering drawings and carved wood as a hobby. Countess Agathe was multi-talanted as an amateur artist, architect/designer and gifted musician playing the piano and sang. Her father, August von Breunner had been an amateur actor, artist and author, who encouraged the arts within his family too.
Marie Esterházy (1802-1837) was born to Hungarian Count János Esterházy and Countess Roza Festetics (1784-1854). For two seasons, the Esterházy were patrons to the composer Franz Schubert. He spent many months in 1818 and 1824 with the family at the their summer home in Zseliz, Hungary (today Želiezovce, Slovakia). While there, he
Agathe Gobertina Whitehead
Agathe Gobertina Whitehead (1891-1922) was born in Fiume on the Adriatic Coast, Austro-Hungarian Empire (today Riejka, Croatia). As a child, as was custom, Agathe was formally musically trained, taking piano and violin lessons. She was also very close to her mother, who was a talented amateur artist and pianist. Together they made music and sang regularly. By the time Agathe was a teenager, her mother and her often performed together to entertain family, friends and guests ranging from small to large events. On such an occasion, Agathe met Georg for the first time.
Joan Whitehead (1899-1985) was born in Fiume on the Adriatic Coast, Austro-Hungarian Empire (today Riejka, Croatia). Joan’s artistic talent showed itself early on in her life. Supported by her mother who was an amateur artist in her own right, she was encouraged to pursue her passion. In 1921, she was accepted to the “Akademie fuer Bildende Kuenste” (Academy of the Arts) in Vienna, Austria. Out of 12 female applicants, only four were chosen. Her talent was acknowledged by the academy, a panel of artists and dignitaries from the Ministry of Culture, who observed her drawing in their presence over the course of two days, and combined with her portfolio of past work, admitted her. Equally impressive was that typical applicants took 12 Months of preparatory schooling to develop their portfolio, whereas Joan only had three months to prepare. Following her graduation from the Academy, she moved to Switzerland, built a house with studio and concentrated on her art. Her work encompassed, still-lives, portraits, nature scenes, nudes, and landscape sketches drawn on her travels through Switzerland and Europe. She worked in pencil, color pencil, watercolor, oils, and charcoal.
A Long Tradition...
Georg and Agathe were both musically talented, came from a long line of artistic families, and passed down a love of music to their seven children.