A retired professor who has also made musical instruments, written books and been a patron of classical music will celebrate his 95th birthday with a concert.

Longtime Hampstead resident Simon Majaro is a Renaissance man who has squeezed more into one life than most people manage in two or even three - after a precarious start marked by his father’s flight from Russia.

The former professor and philanthropist will celebrate his 95th birthday on June 24 with a concert at The Wigmore Hall.

As an academic at two business schools, he published many professional books, but since his retirement, he has published Jerusalem’s Doctor of the Poor, a moving memoir about his father, a Russian refugee doctor in Jerusalem.

The book is an account of his father’s extraordinary life, offering devoted medical care to Jews, Arabs and Christians in Jerusalem for more than 60 years, and what it was like to grow up in Jerusalem under British rule during the 1930s and 40s.

Simon’s father was born Lev Mojarowsky in Odessa in 1892. After the 1917 Revolution his father - Simon’s grandfather – said: “I suggest you pack your bags and leave this country. Go anywhere you like. This country will become hell on earth for many years… Just get out.”

Ham & High: Simon MajaroSimon Majaro (Image: David Herman)

Lev travelled to Jaffa via Constantinople and Beirut, caught typhus, learned Hebrew, Arabic and English, changed his name to Dr Leon Majaro and worked in a hospital in the Old Quarter of Jerusalem.

Simon, born in 1929, had a happy childhood in pre-war Jerusalem despite attacks on parts of the city by Arab armed gangs, especially during the ‘Troubles’ in the late 1930s.

The book is full of encounters with famous figures like the poet Hayim Nahman Bialik, conductor Arturo Toscanini and, most spectacularly, "a very severe looking lady in a long black skirt", who broke the family’s toilet seat. This was Israeli prime minister Golda Meir.

Simon then brought out his first novel, the historical thriller Who is Mr. Poliakoff? taking in the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the Gulag under Khruschev and secret agents in Israel.

It is dedicated to John le Carré, who gave Simon some advice when he told him he was thinking of writing a novel about the mysterious Mr. Poliakoff, who was eating a few tables away.

Ham & High: Simon MajaroSimon Majaro (Image: David Herman)

Remarkably, Simon Majaro found the time to pursue a third career, his passionate hobby of making string instruments. He has made fifteen instruments (violins, viollas and cellos). They have all been played by professional musicians.

During the Covid Pandemic, The Wihan Quartet came to Britain without their personal instruments and played on Simon’s instruments at a number of prestigious venues to great acclaim, including The Wigmore Hall. Now, at 95 Simon is making his 16th instrument.

Finally, in 2011, Simon was awarded the MBE for voluntary service to The Cavatina Chamber Music Trust, which he founded with his late wife, Pamela, many years ago and which has enriched the lives of many children at local schools in North London by introducing them chamber music.

The birthday concert on June 24 will be a double celebration. The Wihan Quartet, who will be performing, are celebrating more than 30 years since they entered the British musical world. It will celebrate some of the great Czech composers of the past century, featuring the second quartets of Smetana and Janáček and Dvořák’s great American Quartet.

Simon and Pamela welcomed the Wihan Quartet to London and acted as their patrons and supporters throughout their career in the UK. The Quartet called Simon and Pamela, ‘Our English Parents’.

The concert will be a wonderful celebration of a rich life, well lived, Simon Majaro, author, professor, instrument-maker and philanthropist.