RENAISSANCE MAN

PHOTOGRAPHER

Ezra Rachlin’s internationally acclaimed photographic exhibition “Good Vibrations” shown at the Royal Festival Hall, London in 1983, was an in-depth study of hearing impaired children making music.

Picture with Ann Rachlin,  Prince and Princess Michael of Kent

Ezra with Ann Rachlin and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent

His last exhibition entitled “Through the Eye of the Conductor” went on display in the Barbican Centre, London from April 15-May 10 1987.  He was heard to say that he had photographed half the world “between concerts and rehearsals”.

Between 1935 and 1941, Mr Rachlin exhibited in photographic salons throughout Europe.   He won awards in Germany, England and Belgium.

Awards were not confined to Europe, as he also took them in Mexico, Brazil, Canada and the United States.  His work has been featured in leading photography magazines.  The list of those who collected his work included President and Mrs Lyndon B Johnson, Lauritz Melchior, Prince Aschwin de Lippe, Sir John Barbirolli, Leonard Bernstein, Lisa  Della Casa, Efrem Zimbaiist Sr, and Leopold Stokowski.

Ezra took universal themes, but imbued them with his own personality and character with observations and philosophy on what makes a good picture. He brought to his hobby the same discipline and attention to detail that made him a child prodigy and renowned and innovative conductor.

He seized the opportunity to take his camera with him on all his professional music engagements around the world, and the result is that his friends and family have been bequeathed a uniquely rich and wonderful legacy and history of his peripatetic life.  Perhaps it is best to let him describe the huge importance of photography in his life.

“I was given a camera by a friend when I was about 16 or 17, I remember the camera; it was a folding vest pocket Kodak with a 4.5 lens, three or four shutter speeds and focussing.  I was delighted with it and promptly proceeded to ruin several films, because I knew nothing whatsoever about anything technical.   A kind friend who had a dark room, a rarity in those days, took pity on me and pent one Saturday afternoon showing me the basic steps in taking a picture, developing the negative and making a contact print. I was captivated by the magic of photography immediately and spent every spare moment for some years after this initial experience, taking some hundreds of thousands of the worst pictures in the whole world!

After some time during which I continually experimented and changed from one camera to another and made all the beginner’s mistakes imaginable, I found the Leica camera.   Or perhaps it found me, for we seemed to be made for each other.  Now at last I began the serious attempt to become a better photographer, and actually made a few pictures of which I am not ashamed even today.  My equipment is still based on two Leicas, rangefinder and reflex models and an assortment of lenses.  I make all my own prints in colour and black and white and am still trying to find a system for filing negative and slides that will save me from my own untidiness in that department!

Music and photography are a marvellous combination of interests, demanding discipline and concentration, whilst refreshing the mind and spirit.  Whether I am holding a baton in my hand and conducting or pursuing a photographic target makes little difference.  Both activities are creative and exciting, and that is what gives me the greatest possible pleasure.”

SPORTS

  • Athlete
  • Broadcaster
  • Ice Skater
  • Long distance swimmer
  • Qualified Pilot

Self-portrait aged 75 walking alone in the Swiss mountains

Ezra Rachlin loved sport, somewhat unusual for a musician.  He was a good athlete.  He was a long distance swimmer, an excellent ice skater who enjoyed playing ice hockey.  He was also a qualified pilot and a first rate yachtsman.

In Austin, he was a regular broadcaster with his own weekly program which reflected his diverse entertaining personality.   He was a man of humour, with a rare wit and an enjoyment of life.    Ezra was an avid reader with a wide range of subjects from the art of tying nautical knots to the history of the Mafia.

CHARITABLE WORK

Ezra was Vice Chairman of The Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children, a charity created by his wife, Ann, which is now part of the Elizabeth Foundation of which Ann is President. He travelled all over the UK photographing hearing-impaired children making music and these images formed his GOOD VIBRATIONS exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall. He took an active part in the presentation of special instruments gifted by The Beethoven Fund to schools for the deaf all over the UK.

Ezra also accompanied the young Evelyn Glennie at Beethoven Fund events where she was often featured at the Royal Receptions. He played a considerable part in the early days of her career, when his expertise was able to convince other musicians and academicians of her unique talent as an outstanding musician who in spite of being profoundly deaf, would attain the highest standards and receive worldwide acclaim. Dame Evelyn has more than fulfilled his prophesy!

Always a champion of the young, The Ezra Rachlin Prize for Excellence has enabled a young Maine musician to further his or her career. This prize was first presented by Ezra himself in 1994. Ezra was among the outstanding Curtis students who were taken to Rockport every summer to avoid the heat in Philadelphia and to further their studies in Maine. After his death in 1995, the Ezra Rachlin Prize continues to be presented annually by his wife Ann who often attends the Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine and hands the cheque to the winner in person.


HRH The Prince Edward rehearsing at the Rachlin’s home and in the Barbican Hall.