Mayer, Sir Robert
Mayer, Sir Robert
Mayer, Sir Robert , industrious German-born English music patron; b. Mannheim, June 5, 1879; d. London, Jan. 9, 1985. His love for music was established early when he entered the Mannheim Cons, as a piano student; there he also met Brahms. His father sent him at age 17 to relatives in England to establish himself, since business opportunities were limited for Jews in Germany. So totally immersed did he become in English life that his family asserted he even spoke his native German with a British accent. He was an entrepreneur in the grand manner of the Victorian age. He never wrote music, but he promoted the art with youthful enthusiasm. In 1923, inspired by Walter Damrosch’s concerts for children in N.Y., Mayer and his wife, the singer Dorothy Moulton-Mayer, began a series of children’s concerts, whose first regular conductor was Adrian Boult. The tremendous success of making serious classical music available to young children everywhere in England, from slums to suburbs, encouraged a new enterprise in 1954, Youth and Music, which was specifically offered to adolescents, with the view to creating lifetime participants in musical culture. Mayer’s business acumen launched this program successfully as well. In 1939 he was knighted, and in 1973 made a Companion of Honour. His centennial was gloriously celebrated, with himself as the center of festivities, at the Royal Festival Hall in London, and he was elevated to Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. His autobiography was pubi, as My First Hundred Years (London, 1979). He had the wit to proclaim that music exercised a curative power over the human body and mind, and he adjusted his entire life accordingly.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire