The Last Photo, aged 79

The Last Photo, aged 79

Last Years, Death & Funeral

For six long weeks in Intensive Care, after a brave fight, Ezra Rachlin died of complications following vascular surgery aged 79 in St Mary’s Hospital, London on January 21st 1995.   He is buried in Hoop Lane Jewish Cemetery, London.   He is survived by his wife Ann, son Michael and three step-children Jan, Trisha and Max Ziff and several step-grandchildren.

Ezra's grave

Ezra's grave

A TRIBUTE FROM ANN RACHLIN

October 31, 2010

When I went to Waterloo Station to meet my parents off the boat train, I had no idea that my life was about to change forever.   The date was May 26th 1968.   My parents, George and Perle Lyttleton were returning from a holiday in the USA and had chosen the leisurely route aboard the SS France.  In the dining room by pure chance, they were seated at a table for two next to a solitary passenger who seemed to eschew company.  At first they merely nodded a polite greeting each evening, but eventually they began to converse.  Polite niceties soon changed into warm animated conversation as they discovered how much they had in common.   Ezra was travelling on behalf of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition with a schedule that would take him to Russia, Czechoslovakia, Germany and Belgium, a tour of musical cities where he had appointments with Artur Rubinstein, Aram Khachaturian amongst other great musicians.   My father, who loved classical music was involved with the Leeds International Piano Competition and so they found they had much in common.   Soon my proud father was showing Ezra a newspaper cutting that he just happened to have in his pocket!  “Wonder Mum brings classical music to children” was the headline.   Ezra, who was famous for his children’s concerts in Texas where he had three orchestras, was intrigued.  “I would like to meet her” he said.

At Waterloo Station, my mother, grabbed my hand and took me over to meet the famous conductor with whom my parents were now firm friends.  Over a pile of luggage I shook hands with him and a date was made for us all to meet the next day for lunch at the Hunting Lodge restaurant.

At noon, I left St Anthony ‘s School in Hampstead  where I was teaching, jumped into a taxi and headed for Lower Regent Street.  My parents and Ezra had arrived before me.  My father stood up and I kissed him.  I kissed my mother and then – totally out of character, for I was basically a shy young woman, I turned to Ezra and said  “Aren’t you going to kiss me?”   He looked at me and in that split second, we fell in love.  Yes, I know it sounds improbable – but it just so happens to be true.

One year later, almost to the day, we were married.  He was 53 and I was 36. It was the start of a 25 year partnership that taught me all I know about music, that whisked me round the world on concert tours, that gave me an insight into the world of great performers but above all, gave me the gift of a quarter of a century with one of the most brilliant, witty, gifted artists who was truly a modern Renaissance Man.

When at the end of his life, Ezra heard he had to have dangerous surgery, we were both apprehensive and scared.   Ezra gave me these words of comfort.   “I will never leave you.  If I die, all you will ever need to do is listen to my music.   Music is where I live. “

He has been gone almost 16 years as I write this, but my memories of him are as vivid and vibrant as if he only left me yesterday.  Not a day goes by without I think of him.  I miss him still for he was an exceptional man who, even in old age, always managed to keep our marriage alive and vibrant for he had so many interests.  We used to talk about photography, theatre, sailing, literature, painting and above all young people.  He loved to teach and believed fervently in the obligation of great artists to pass on their knowledge to the young.  He was an inspired teacher.   He had a keen sense of humour and loved to laugh, even though at times he had what he called “a deep melancholia” that he said came from his Russian background.  A loving man, he endeared himself to his family, his students and his friends.    He enriched my life.

When he died, my children and I searched for a suitable epitaph to put on his tombstone.  It was my son Max who found the phrase that seemed to say what we all felt. Written by a fellow American, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, it says

“HE HAS MOVED A LITTLE CLOSER TO THE MASTER OF ALL MUSIC”

Ezra's tombstone

Ezra's tombstone