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Ann Rachlin MBE (born 1933), is a pioneer of music appreciation for children in the UK, and the founder of "Fun With Music". A gifted storyteller, she began teaching music appreciation in London before creating "Fun with Music". She is a published author of children's books and an authority on Ellen Terry, the great Victorian actress, and her daughter Edith Craig. She is a Fellow of Grey College, University of Durham.
Life and career
Rachlin was born in Leeds, England in 1933, as Ann Lyttleton. She is the widow of the American conductor and pianist Ezra Rachlin, who died in 1995. She has two daughters and one son, children of her first marriage to Neville Ziff (divorced) and five grandchildren. Her children are: Jan Ziff, journalist and broadcaster CEO of Heckerty.com, Trisha Ziff, award-winning film-maker, curator and photographer, and Max Ziff. Most of her family were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe (except for one of her paternal great-great-grandmothers, an English-born convert to Judaism). Ann has five grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Her work came to public prominence in 1987 when Prince William joined Ann's classes and was followed a year later by his brother, Prince Harry. They remained with Ann for four years until they went to boarding school. She has taught the children or grandchildren of other celebrities, including Yehudi Menuhin's grandson, Judi Dench's daughter, Spike Milligan's daughter, and Julian Lloyd Webber's son, among the 260 pupils who attended her weekly sessions in London. Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Dame Judi Dench, Jane Asher, Edward Fox and Joanna David, Barry Humphries, Bob Hoskins, Sir Clement Freud, Spike Milligan and Peter O'Toole also number among other celebrities who have sent their children to Fun with Music.
Ann Rachlin has given hundreds of public performances around the world, including a year of family "Funtasia" concerts in 1986 with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by her husband, Ezra.
When her husband Ezra died in 1995, Ann was determined to continue her work. Together with colleague Iain Kerr an experienced musician who has worked with her since 1978, Ann enhanced "Fun With Music" with several new projects.
An accomplished public speaker, Ann travels all over the world, presenting her audio-visual lectures "Bells on Her Toes", "Edy Was a Lady" and "Music, The Food of Life". amongst many others - www.annrachlintalks.com
In 1996 Ann was the subject of "This Is Your Life" when Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Georg Solti and Lord Runcie joined many celebrities, friends and former pupils to pay tribute to her life's work with children and music.
Ann is also a successful writer and her ten "Famous Children" books are best sellers worldwide. They have been translated into 17 languages, including Indonesian, Finnish, Czech and two Chinese versions. She is an EMI recording artist, specialising in Classical Music and Stories for children.
Ann Rachlin is an acknowledged authority on the Victorian actress Ellen Terry and her daughter Edith Craig. For more than thirty years, Ann has owned an extensive ongoing collection of Terry memorabilia which includes the as yet unpublished reminiscences of Edith Craig. Her latest book EDY WAS A LADY contains the "lost" memoirs of Edith Craig.
In 2010 at the age of 76, Rachlin was offered and accepted a Fellowship at Grey College in the University of Durham. She spent the Easter Term at the University, living on campus where she was able to research, talk and write about Ellen Terry, the great Victorian actress and her daughter, Edith Craig, whose only memoirs have been owned by Ann since 1978. Rachlin was invited and returned to Grey College every year for five years until 2014..
In January 2015, Ann accepted an engagement to perform as the solo artist in a children's concert at the 26th International Music Festival in Dinard, Brittany, France. She created a brand new programme for her young French public, entitled "Un Panier de Princes". ( A Basketful of Princes) After spending most of the year perfecting her French which she had not spoken for many decades, at the amazing age of 82, Ann gave a hugely successful performance to a full house of French families and their children on August 9, 2015. Performing in French, Ann transported her young audience to the magical world of brave princes and beautiful princesses. Four famous fairy-tale princes are floating in a hot-air balloon. To pass the time they each tell their own story to see who is the bravest of them all. Prince Siegfried from “Swan Lake”, Prince Florimond from “The Sleeping Beauty”, The Prince from “The Love for Three Oranges” and Prince Ivan from “The Firebird”. Listening to the stories, the children heard the music of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Stravinksy. An excerpt from the 'live' performance can be found on YouTube.
In the early 1970s Ann founded The Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children (now incorporated with The Elizabeth Foundation for Deaf Children). She is President of both charities. The Beethoven Fund was supported by members of the Royal Family and many famous musicians including Lorin Maazel, Sir Georg Solti, André Previn, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Mitsuko Uchida, Yehudi Menuhin as well as Sir Peter Ustinov and Sir Alec Guinness amongst others. Ann and Ezra Rachlin were instrumental in helping Dame Evelyn Glennie in the early stages of her career.
In 1986, Rachlin was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for her services to music and deaf children.
- Fun with Music website. Retrieved 25 Feb. 2006.
- Ann Rachlin recalls her appearance on This Is Your Life