Storyteller & Music Educator

In 1965 Ann and her three children moved to St John’s Wood in London.

While Jan and Trisha were educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, Max auditioned for St Anthony’s Preparatory School in Hampstead. At the interview, Ann was startled to be asked by the Headteacher what she intended doing in London. Outlining her intentions to find a good secretarial job, Ann was amazed to be invited to join the staff of St Anthony’s to try out her musical story-telling technique in the school. Ann and Max started St Anthony’s on the same day!

Ann with pupil in 1968Early day at The House on the HillToddlers Fun with Music in the early 1980's

Encouraged by Jill and Clement Freud, whose sons Matthew and Dominic attended St Anthony’s, Ann decided to leave the school and set up on her own. It was Dominic Freud who gave her method its now world-famous name Fun with Music®™ . She started with three private pupils and by the end of the first term, she already had 80 children attending her after-school tea-and-story sessions at The House on the Hill School, courtesy the generous offer of a classroom by the much-loved headmistress, Barbara Bowler.

Free from the restrictions of working in a school, Ann was able to extend and develop her sessions. In addition to her after school tea-and-story sessions, she took her young pupils to concerts and the opera and instigated her popular weekend “On Location Sessions’ including Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony on a Picnic in the Country (picture) Carnival of the Animals in Chessington Zoo (picture) and the best loved of all, The Life of Handel and the Water Music on a Barge on the Thames, re-tracing the historical first performance by Handel on the river in 1717. She gave 74 performances on the Thames sometimes, like Handel, accompanied by “persons of quality” including two Archbishops of Canterbury Donald Coggan and Robert Runcie, and Peter O’Toole and The Queen of Greece.

Beethoven Pastoral Picnic in the country (Photo by Ezra Rachlin)Beethoven Pastoral Picnic in the country (Photo by Ezra Rachlin)Carnival of the Animals at Chessington Zoo (Photo by Ezra Rachlin)

The Water Music on the Thames was so popular that it became part of the London summer scene where families of children and their parents from the general public could attend the performances.

Water Music on the Thames 1968 (Photo by Ezra Rachlin)Water Music 1985 (Photo by Ezra Rachlin)Letter

In 1968 visiting London from Texas, the distinguished American conductor and pianist Ezra Rachlin was in the audience on the river and met Ann for the first time. She and Ezra were married one year later in May 1969.

Ezra Rachlin

Born in Hollywood in 1915, Ezra gave his first full piano recital at the age of five. He made his debut in Berlin at the age of eight in the same week as Yehudi Menuhin. He studied piano with Josef Hofmann and Leopold Godowski. At 16, he was on the faculty of The Curtis Institute of Music where he switched to conducting under Fritz Reiner. Amongst his classmates were Leonard Bernstein, Gian Carlo Menotti and Samuel Barber. He was Chief Conductor of the Austin Symphony Orchestra Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and the Houston Summer Symphony Orchestra Summer Symphony n the USA and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in Australia. His European career included concerts and recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Halle Orchestra, the Philharmonia as well as an extensive career conducting opera in Italy. Ezra was also an accomplished photographer with major exhibitions of his work in the USA, UK and Australia. He died in London on January 21st, 1995.

Ezra Rachlin, conductorAnn & Ezra with Orchestra Wedding Cake, May 1969Ezra on honeymoon in Venice 1969