Max Jaffa

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Max Jaffa OBE (28 December 1911 – 30 July 1991)[1] was a British light orchestral violinist and bandleader.[2] He is best remembered as the leader of the Palm Court Orchestra and trio, with Jack Byfield (piano) and Reginald Kilbey (cello), which broadcast on BBC Radio. His career lasted 70 years, before retiring in 1990.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

He was born Max Jaffe[3] in London, England,[2] the first child of Israel Jaffe, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, and Milly Makoff, his London-born Russian wife. After making his solo debut in a concert at the Brighton Palace Pier Theatre at the age of nine, he played in the pit of a silent cinema orchestra, to furnish background and atmosphere for silent films, while still at school.[2] He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama[2] and won the Gold Medal. While he was playing at the Piccadilly Hotel, London, he was offered the job of leader of the Scottish Symphony Orchestra, at the age of 17.[2] In World War II, he originally served as Gunner Jaffa in the Royal Artillery, but subsequently joined the Royal Air Force and became a pilot in RAF Bomber Command.[4]


Jaffa was a versatile and accomplished musician, a favourite of Sir Landon Ronald at the Guildhall School.[5] From 1956 until 1986, his concerts from The Spa, Scarborough,[2] were frequently featured on BBC Radio.[6][7] Jaffa recorded the violin and orchestra version of "Dark Eyes", written by Adalgiso Ferraris.[8] His collaboration with Ferraris included other songs, such as "Souvenir d'Ukraine" and "Gipsy Idylle".[8]

His autobiography, A Life on the Fiddle, was published by Hodder and Stoughton shortly before his death in 1991. Jaffa is cited as a member of the eclectic (and fictional) "orchestra" in The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band's recording, The Intro and the Outro.


  1. ^ "MusicSack / Music Sack". Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 659. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  3. ^ "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/38577. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Sleevenotes to EP Music from the Palm Court (No. 2), Columbia, 1957
  5. ^ Max Jaffa (1991). A Life on the Fiddle. Hodder and Stoughton. p. 104. ISBN 978-0340423813.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 March 2008. Retrieved 14 November 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 April 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b "Vinyl Album: Max Jaffa - Gypsy Magic (1967)". Retrieved 9 October 2019.

External links[edit]