Born: December 28, 1905 - Feldkirchen near Mattighofen, Upper Austria
Died: June 21, 1992 - Salzburg, Austria
The Austrian priest and choral conductor, Franz Mathias Wasner, graduated in theology from the University of Innsbruck. After completing his studies, he was ordained a priest on March 17, 1929, and served in the small parish of Mayrhofen in Tyrol for one year. Then he went to Rome to study ecclesiastical law and gratuated summa cum laude as "Dr jur can" in 1934.
Franz Wasner returned to Salzburg to serves as a priest. In 1935, he met Georg von Trapp and became a life long family friend. On a visit to the von Trapp household, he heard the family sing. An excellent musician himself, he began to help the family with their music, and found that their musical talent could provide them with an income. He became their Musical Director and conductor of for over 20 years. They toured as the Trapp Family Choir (later Trapp Family Singers), performing around Europe and America. When the von Trapps left Austria in 1938, he left with them to the USA and remained with the family as their conductor, composer and arranger until 1958. He composed several masses and songs and made arrangemnenbt for the Trapp Family Singers.
During a tour in Australia and New Zealand, Franz Wasner decided to do missionary work on the Fiji Islands until 1966. During his stay he commissioned murals in the small church of his station in Naiserelangi by the Mexican artist Jean Charlot. He returned again to Salzburg, but only for a short time. The Vatican called on him to become a rector of the "Collegio Santa Maria dell'Anima" (the domicile of German-speaking theology students in Rome), which enjoyed great influx under Prelate Wasner's leadership of more than 15 years.
Prelate Wasner received many honors from several countries as recognition for his devoted service. He passed away in June 1992 in Salzburg. In the quasi-fictionalized stage and screen musical The Sound of Music, he is represented by the character Max Detweiler. In 1998, on the occasion of the Broadway Musical Revival of The Sound of Music, Arno Gasteiger, vice governor of Salzburg, presented the remaining six von Trapp children with the state's highest civilian decoration, the Golden Decoration of Honour, in New York. Gasteiger also presented medals to seven actors who portrayed the von Trapp family children in the movie.