“I must live like an outcast”
wrote the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven about his own deafness.
In 1976 sadly, it was true that many children with this invisible handicap were still living in an isolated world of silence. Curiously, it was soon discovered that MUSIC would play an increasingly important role in improving their means of communication.
How did it start and how did it work?
The Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children is the brainchild of music educator, Ann Rachlin, whose Fun with Music concerts for hearing children were attended by thousands all over the country. The Fund was her way of helping deaf children who could never have the Fun with Music that her hearing pupils enjoy.
Founded in 1976, The Beethoven Fund functioned under the umbrella of The National Deaf Children’s Society, but in August 1981, it became a fully independent registered charity.. Ann’s first idea with her pupils was to encourage children who hear to help children who can’t. By 1981, Ann had become aware of the importance of music in helping hearing-impaired children communicate through a highly specialised music speech therapy. Dedicated to helping hearing-impaired children learn to communicate, Ann inspired many great musicians and actors of the world to perform for the benefit of the Fund, donating their services to help deaf children – in Beethoven’s name.
Applications for assistance were made to the Fund through schools for the deaf, partial hearing units and teachers of the deaf.
Dame Janet Baker
Sir Edward Heath
Musician Founder Patrons
Sir Charles Groves,
Lord Yehudi Menuhin
Sir Georg Solti (pictured)
Other Founder Patrons
Mrs Barbara Bowler
Mr & Mrs John Buckman (Portugal)
Mr & Mrs Ivor Connick
Mr John Curro (Australia)
Mr & Mrs Mark Dersch
Mr & Mrs AnthonyJudd
Dr & Mrs Derek Goldfoot
Mr & Mrs Bernard Lyons
Mr & Mrs Graham Lyons
Mr & Mrs Robert Lyons
Mr & Mrs Stuart Lyons
Mr & Mrs George Lyttleton
Mr Trevor Lyttleton
Mrs Ruby Pearce
Eudice Shapiro (USA)
Mr Max Ziff
Musical Speech Therapy
Being born deaf means you cannot hear the voices of others. It also means you cannot hear your own voice, so learning to speak is a very complicated and difficult process.
Special musical instruments
were used to help hearing-impaired children reproduce the rhythm and melody of speech and language and so develop their powers of communication. Music and spoken language offer so many points of resemblance that the basic elements of music can be employed as a means of teaching the hearing-impaired and other handicapped groups to use their voices in a more normal and acceptable way and thus improve their communication with the hearing world.
The Beethoven Fund supplied these special instruments for use in schools, thereby relieving financial pressure on already over-extended public resources. Regional workshops to provide teachers with information on the latest use of the instruments demonstrated by leading specialists, were regularly organised and paid for by the Fund.
The Royal Family
HRH The Prince of Wales was the first member of The Royal Family to honour The Beethoven Fund with his presence. He was followed in 1982 by TRH Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. In 1983 HRH The Duchess of Gloucester in 1986 HRH The Duchess of Kent, and in 1987 HRH The Prince Edward.
Prince Edward was unique in that he not only came to the concert, but performed on stage, narrating “Peter and the Wolf” with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ezra Rachlin. He also came to the Rachlin’s home in St John’s Wood on three consecutive Fridays to rehearse.
Diana, Princess of Wales was also a keen supporter and lent her name to many Beethoven Fund events.
The Duchess of Gloucester with Sir Georg and Lady Solti
TRH Prince and Princess Michael of Kent with Evelyn Glennie