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Mona Golabek

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Title: Mona Golabek  
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Subject: Kindertransport, List of classical pianists, A Perfect Couple, Fine Tuning, Hershey Felder, Young Concert Artists
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Mona Golabek

Mona Golabek is an American concert pianist and author. She has appeared with many leading orchestras and made numerous recordings. Golabek wrote a book entitled The Children of Willesden Lane that chronicles her mother's experience with the Kindertransport which was published in 2002. A play titled The Pianist of Willesden Lane, based on the book, adapted and directed by Hershey Felder, and in which Golabek appeared in a one-woman show, opened at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in April 2012.[1]


Mona Golabek was born in Los Angeles, the daughter of Lisa Jura, a concert pianist and Michel Golabek.[2] Her mother Lisa was born in Austria and was one of 10,000 children brought to England before World War II as part of the Kindertransport, a mission to rescue children threatened by the Nazis. Although Mona's mother was rescued, her maternal grandparents died at Auschwitz, as did her paternal grandparents.

Golabek was taught piano largely by her mother, who had in turn learned to play from her own mother (Mona's grandmother) Malka Jura, also a concert pianist. When asked in an interview whether she had had other piano teachers aside from her mother, Mona answered: "I studied with several outstanding pianists: Leon Fleisher, Reginald Stewart, and Joanna Graudan. But my mother was my true teacher and inspiration".[3]

Mona won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 1972 which led to her New York City recital debut at Carnegie Hall. Afterword, she continued to study piano privately in Rome and London before winning the Avery Fisher Grant as well played at the people's recital sponsored by the local newspaper in Warsaw in 1970.

She has since appeared in concert with major orchestras and conductors around the world and in recitals at the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, and the Royal Festival Hall. She has one Grammy nomination and she was the subject of the PBS documentaries More Than the Music, about prisons which won the grand prize in the 1985 WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival. Concerto for Mona by William Kraft was dedicated to her. She is also a Steinway artist.

In 1992 Golabek and her sister Renee Golabek-Kaye,[4] also a pianist, organized a performance and recording of Camille Saint-Saëns's The Carnival of the Animals. The performance included the reading of Ogden Nash's well known verses on animals with Saint-Saëns's music played underneath. The verses were read by 14 well-known actors, including Ted Danson, Audrey Hepburn, James Earl Jones, Walter Matthau, William Shatner, Jaclyn Smith, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, Joan Rivers, Charlton Heston, and Dudley Moore. Proceeds from the recording were given to charities that help animals, such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Mona and Renee also performed as a piano duo on a recording that features Ravel's Mother Goose Suite with narrator, actress Meryl Streep, the Poulenc Two Piano Concerto, and Poulenc's Babar the Elephant, with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta.

Since 1998, Golabek has hosted her own classical music radio program "The Romantic Hours", which she produces with former KFAC radio personality Doug Ordunio. The show is a wedding of love letters, romantic poetry and thoughts of writers and thinkers of the world with classical music.[5] It is heard on a few classical stations around the country.

Mona has also established the Hold On To Your Music Foundation,[6] which seeks to expand awareness of the ethical implications of world events such as the Holocaust, and the power of music and the arts to embolden the human spirit in the face of adversity. Through the efforts of the Milken Family Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation, an educational initiative for The Children of Willesden Lane was established.

In April 2012, Mona Golabek was featured in a one-woman show, The Pianist of Willesden Lane, directed by Hershey Felder, at the Geffen Playhouse.[7][8][9][10]


  • Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival. Grand Central Publishing, 2003. ISBN 978-0446690270.
  • A video series, "Teaching the Children of Willesden Lane," sponsored by the Annenberg Foundation has been promoted on-line.[11]



External links

  • Hold On To Your Music Foundation
  • Romantic Hours Radio
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