Drawing: Mona Golabek in The Pianist of Willesden Lane

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“Hold on to your music, it will be your best friend,”  was the last thing young 14 year-old Austrian piano prodigy Lisa Jura’s mother told her as she boarded the ‘Kindertransport’ in 1938 bound for London. She was one of the 10,000 Jewish children bought to England before WW2 as part of the mission to rescue them from the threat of the Nazi regime and it’s anti-Semitic violence. Torn from her family and just about to embark on a concert career in Vienna, Lisa spent the war years, surviving the Blitz in a rambling hostel that housed 30 children on Willesden Lane in North London. She later resumed to her concert career and married French Resistance hero Michel Golabek, moving to Los Angeles in the early 1950’s.

In 2002 their daughter and renowned concert pianist, Grammy-nominated Mona Golabek co-wrote with Lee Cohen, the book ‘The Children of Willesden Lane’ that chronicles her mother’s wartime experiences. She adapted the publication into a one woman play, THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE, which opened at LA’s Geffen Playhouse in April 2012 and transferred to London’s St Jame’s Theatre in January this year, selling out and receiving a galaxy of stars from all the critics. The Londonist said, “Effortlessly moving, joyful, sobering and spellbinding.” Due to the demand, Mona has returned for an encore season until 22 October. I left this drawing at the theatre and she kindly signed and dedicated it for me, returning it with a thank you note.

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