Lisa Golabek; Prodigy Who Became Concert Pianist, Music Teacher


Lisa Jura Golabek, a concert pianist and music teacher whose students included her daughters, duo pianists Mona and Renee Golabek, has died. She was 73.

Golabek, a Vienna-born child prodigy, died Friday in Los Angeles, her daughters announced.

As a Jewish child endangered by the rise of Adolf Hitler, Golabek fled to England on the Kindertransport rescue train when she was 13. She worked as a maid, and then in a factory making army uniforms. At night, she played the piano in her London orphanage, inspiring the 30 other children who lived there.

After she earned an audition, the Royal Academy of Music in London granted her a scholarship to study with Mabel Floyd. Eventually, Golabek got a job playing the piano for soldiers at the Howard Hotel.


After the war, she moved to Paris, where she performed the Grieg piano concerto and met her husband, French Resistance fighter Michel Golabek.

The young couple immigrated to the United States, where the pianist began teaching music. Her prize pupils were her daughters, who have recorded such works as “Babar the Elephant” and “The Mother Goose Suite” with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and “Carnival of the Animals” with conductor Lalo Schifrin. Mona Golabek also has had a lengthy solo career.

Students always marveled at Lisa Golabek’s “compassion, unique inner fire and uncanny intuition,” said Mona Golabek, who is host of a nationally syndicated radio program called “The Romantic Hours.”

Lisa Golabek continued to give benefit concerts throughout her life, raising money for Israel, cancer research and hospices that care for people with AIDS.

In addition to her daughters, Golabek is survived by a sister, Rosie Schwartz, and four grandchildren.

The family has requested that any donations be sent to the Lisa Golabek (Roots and Wings) Music Scholarship at Temple Emanuel Community Day School, 8844 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.