Robert Mayer (philanthropist)

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Sir Robert Mayer
Born (1879-06-05)5 June 1879
Mannheim, Grand Duchy of Baden, German Empire
Died 9 January 1985(1985-01-09) (aged 105)
Occupation Businessman
Known for Philanthropist
Awards Albert Medal (1979)

Sir Robert Mayer CH KCVO (5 June 1879 – 9 January 1985) was a German-born philanthropist, businessman, and a major supporter of music and young musicians.

Early life[edit]

Mayer was born in Mannheim, Germany; his father was a brewer. From the age of 5 Mayer attended the Mannheim conservatoire, where, at the age of 11, he played a piano ballade by Brahms before the composer. He also studied under Felix Weingartner.

His father however insisted that Mayer go into business. Initially he worked in the lace trade, and then, moving to London in 1896, became a banker, whilst continuing his piano studies with Fanny Davies and others. Mayer became a citizen of the United Kingdom in 1902, and joined the British army in the First World War.

Personal life[edit]

His wife, the soprano Dorothy Moulton (d. 1974),[1] whom he married in 1919, encouraged him to continue his interest in music. Early in their married life, whilst living in the United States, Mayer came across the children's concerts organised by Walter Damrosch, and he was inspired by these to found the Robert Mayer Concerts for Children in 1923 (and later set up 'Youth and Music' , founded 1954, and affiliated to Jeunesses Musicales). The first series of concerts were conducted by Adrian Boult and Malcolm Sargent.


In 1932, Mayer was one of the founders of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and he also helped found the London Schools Symphony Orchestra in 1951. He was also involved, with Egon Wellesz, with the founding of the ISCM.


His 100th birthday in 1979 was a national celebration that included a gala concert at the Royal Festival Hall which was attended by Queen Elizabeth II.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Bernard Keeffe played music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Benjamin Britten, Malcolm Arnold and Jean Sibelius, the most requested works as the result of a poll.

Although Chaim Weizmann referred to him as "an assimilated Jew", Mayer replied "I am a man, not a Jew or a non-Jew".


Mayer published an autobiography titled My First 100 Years in 1979.

National Order[edit]

He was created a Knight Bachelor in 1939, and was created a Companion of Honour (CH) in 1973. He was made a KCVO by the Queen in 1979.


  1. ^ Moulton, Dorothy (12 November 1920). "Dorothy Moulton's Debut". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  • Sadie, Stanley Sir Robert Mayer at 100, Musical Times vol.120 no.1636 (July 1979), pp. 457, 474-5
  • "BBC Infax". BBC.