Atarah Ben-Tovim was born on 1st October 1940, the daughter of Harry Ben-Tovim and his wife Gladys Rachel (née Carengold). Her mother had been born in Bridgend, Wales in 1906, the daughter of a Jewish immigrant draper from Russia. Unusually for a woman at that time she attended the University of Wales, gaining a B.A. in 1927. Harry Ben-Tovim was a general practicioner. He was living in Doncaster during the war but afterwards the family lived in Wallasey. When she was eight they moved to Ealing in London.
Having been principle flautist with the National Youth Orchestra in 1963 she came to Liverpool to take up the same position with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, taking over from Fritz Spiegl. (One of the unsuccessful candidates for the position was James Galway.) She stayed with the RLPO until 1975 and during this time she developed an interest in taking music to children. The Phil gave school concerts and she was appalled by them, finding scant interest amongst the audience and having to play amidst flights of paper planes. Her criticism drew a response that she was welcome to try to improve matters and she did just this. Initially she got together a group of half a dozen friends from the orchestra and played at a school for disabled children at which a friend worked. The success of her venture led to the transformation of the ad hoc ensemble into Atarah’s Band and she left the RLPO to concentrate on its development.
Her success led to many appearances on TV and radio including her own series, Atarah’s Music, aimed at primary school children. She also presented the long-running ITV series for schools Seeing and Doing and was the subject of an edition of BBC’s Omnibus. She founded the Children’s Music Centre at Haslingden, Lancashire, a music school-cum-youth hostel of which she was artistic director for over 20 years. She wrote many books, some with her second husband, BBC producer Douglas Boyd.
Atarah Ben-Tovim had one daughter by her first marriage. During her time in Liverpool she lived at 12 Princes Park Mansions L8. In later years she lived in south-west France. She died on 20th October 2022.
The obituary in the Daily Telegraph is quite informative. (subscription required). Wikipedia entry is fairly basic. There is an interesting interview with Atarah Ben-Tovim on YouTube in which she talks in some detail about what led her to form Atarah's Band. A search on YouTube will reveal other interviews and clips from her TV appearances. She wrote an autobiography in 1976 entitled Atarah's Book [Benbo 1976].
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