Excused war service because of a chronic asthmatic condition, on the recommendation of GEORGE SZELL, Ezra Rachlin accepted a new appointment as conductor of the Philadelphia Opera Company with which he performed all over the United States. During this period he founded the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, The Philadelphia Chamber Opera Company and the Philadelphia School for Opera.
From 1946-1949 Rachlin was the personal conductor to the great Danish tenor, LAURITZ MELCHIOR, appearing with him in concerts all over the world. Only a year after the end of World War II, they travelled to Germany to entertain the troops. There Rachlin witnessed the devastation of the great German cities and took a series of historical photographs of the aftermath of war. Melchior and Ezra each had a great sense of humour and the tour was filled with funny situations as the tenor and conductor tried to outdo each other, playing practical jokes both on and off the stage. In Denmark they visited the Royal Palace as guests of King Frederick IX who was an able pianist and conductor with his own private concert hall within the palace. When they took their leave, His Majesty gave Ezra an ivory letter opener carved with the royal monogram.
Among many amusing anecdotes that Rachlin related re the Melchior years, was his account of his first meeting with the ‘Great Dane’. Arriving at the Melchior mansion in Mulholland Drive , Los Angeles, Rachlin was shown by the maid to the swimming pool where to his astonishment he found both Mr and Mrs. Melchior sitting completely nude. “Don’t be shocked” said Melchior reassuringly. “this is how we always live at home. We send for the servants and say “Take a good long look and then we never expect to see you looking again!”
Ezra’s letter to his parents about Germany in 1948
…..While in Berlin I managed to take a look around and incredible as it seems, Wielandstrasse 15 is still there and looks much the same, only shabbier, of course! What a funny feeling to see all the old places again.
The ruins of Germany are quite beyond description. When you fly over the country, you see one bomb crater after another, one set of ruins after another, but you don’t know what it really looks like till you spend some time wandering (as I did) through the actual ruins themselves. The Germans, of course, have changed not at all, but I must say it was gratifying to meet the generals who are responsible for our policies, and realise how much they are doing and how well they’re working. We had a good time in Germany, traipsing around with a military escort and so forth in great style.
London is very shabby these days, and cold too. They’re short of everything and have quite a battle for survival – every American should be sent over to Europe for a few months, to see what’s happening and realize what a Paradise we live in, compared to Europe……
World Tour with the Melchiors