Do you have a special memory of Saralee that you’d like to share?
We’re also collecting images and footage from her concerts over the years. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with attachments or links to images and video. Thank you.
I had the honor of meeting you grandma at your Aunt April’s one time where she played tha piano for us. The world lost a true lady and a great musician.
I had the privilege of meeting the wonderful and amazing Saralee in the early ’70s when Lyra came to UC Davis. She was very elegant. articulate and friendly and will forever remain in my heart. My heartfelt condolences.
This is wonderful Julia!
When I moved to CA in 1980 Aunt Polly and Uncle Max made sure I got to know the Konigsberg family. Saralee opened her home and her heart to me and I’ll never forget the times we spent together. Her get-togethers were the best and we always asked her to play the piano because she could sooth the savage beast as they say. Cousin Phil and I definitely are part of the family and she made sure we knew it. I loved her like she was my Aunt and her daughters are the best because they have the same qualities she did.
All my love,
Karen Spieler Hertz
I first met Saralee when Lyra and I were in grade school together. I was always treated like family whenever I went to the Halprins’ home. “Won’t you stay for dinner?” When we were in high school, I was hugely impressed by the family’s “graffiti wall.” We could write and draw on that wall! It was okay! Here was a mom who wanted people to express themselves and communicate freely. In recent years, I have stopped in to see Saralee during brief trips to Santa Monica. Those delightful visits put me back in touch with all those memories and gave me the opportunity to chat with one of my favorite people on the planet! I am so glad to have known Saralee and will remember her fondly, always.
I love the video of Saralee playing the wedding march. It was such an honor to have her play the introit and wedding march at Peter and my wedding, too. Several people came up afterwards and thought they had come to a piano concert instead of a wedding. It was definitely the best and most enduring part of the service. Saralee had a wonderfully engaging smile and manner. She truly made everyone feel special. She touched so many lives in such a beautiful way. We will all miss her.
My memories of Saralee are always of her being so happy and kind to us all. I loved all the family get togethers at her home and having that opportunity to see all the Konigsbergs together. I remember my grandparents, Sylvia and Raphael, always speaking of her so lovingly and then of course, there’s the music. 🙂 We are at the end of a family era and I’m so sad to see it go but I’m joyful at the excellent life Saralee and her siblings had. I will miss Saralee, she was wonderful.
Judy Konigsberg Brzezinski
We were privileged to stay with Saralee for a few days in July, 2012. She could not have been more welcoming or friendly, and we loved the atmosphere she created in her wonderful home. We kept in touch after returning to the UK, and the image of her sitting at the piano with Josh is one that will live long in the memory. A very special person.
John and Mary Smail
I will miss Saralee more than I can say. I feel so lucky to have had her for a friend and to have had the honor of hearing her play. I know she is in a better place. Love always,
5 years old — laying on top of a white white fluffy soft rug under her giant black piano with April I recall listing to Saralee’s voice — don’t know to who or even what she’d said till she entered the room. I HEARD “Darling…”. from that day, always every time Saralee said “Darling” to anyone — I felt valued & important. & since that 1st afternoon I KNEW Saralee as deeply valued, uniquely important to everyone.
Elizabeth Howland Forrest
I knew Saralee because we were both volunteers in the earlier days at KCRW…Saralee hosted wonderful parties at her beautiful Santa Monica home, for KCRW workers, and it was always a warm and generous environment…I still stay in touch with some of the KCRW community.
When we first opened a ballet school (Joey Harris School of Dance) on Montana Ave in Santa Monica, I remember Sara Lee bringing in April for lessons. The Halprin’s lived close by and Sara Lee was very supportive of the school. I remember that after our first recital at Barnum Hall she gave such positive feed back that I can still hear her voice. I think she was also relieved that we used Vivaldi, Glazanov, Cherubini, Brahms etc. for the for the choreographies that brought another dimension to the music for the young people. A bright light and a true teacher/musician.
My family always lived a few houses away from Saralee in Santa Monica. I knew her from playing with April and Lyra, and from her musical abilities which she shared with my father, Norman. Saralee and my mother, Donna, were very close from the 1950’s to the 2011, when I moved my mother away. I would very much like to come to the memorial.
Nancy Peterson Cable
Culver City, CA
Saralee was an original. A one-of-a-kind musician and friend. She was also a tireless and inspiring teacher, which is how I first met her. I came from New York and lived in Los Angeles part time, I wanted to reconnect with the piano, which is an instrument I played (around with) as a kid, but never really mastered in any way. Saralee was recommended as the teacher for me. I was told she was a great musician who would understand that I wanted to play serious music at the piano, but didn’t want to go back to square one, since I had already been a professional clarinetist. And she didn’t disappoint. Saralee knew exactly how to patiently take me, one step at a time, through technically accessible Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Haydn…you name it. Saralee absolutely loved what she was doing at the moment she was doing it. She encouraged and never disparaged even if my practicing had not been up to par for that particular week.
I had the pleasure of playing chamber music with her as well, which was extremely generous on her part, since my professional clarinet playing was really in my past, and not in my then current life. We became close friends, which was not easy to do on her part, either, since I didn’t live in LA full time and I never really planned ahead for my social life for when I was back in town. Whenever I breezed into LA, unannounced, over the years, long after my piano lessons were a thing of the past, she made herself available to me. We’d walk in the neighborhood, have lunch,share family stories, discuss the latest outrage that was happening on the political scene or she’d sit at the piano and eagerly show me what she herself was working on. Her generosity of spirit was beautiful. She will always be with me. I cherish her memory.
by Emily Dickinson
That I did always love,
I bring thee proof:
That till I loved
I did not love enough.
That I shall love alway,
I offer thee
That love is life,
And life hath immortality.
You know people by what you see around them. And around Saralee life and love bloomed and thrived: her music and the happy families she brought forth in the form of her children, grandchildren and their husbands and wives. They are her spirit made manifest. And that love, that life, is immortal.
Tina Devon Gallier
Dearest family of Saralee,
My heart goes out to all of you at the passing of a beloved and loving mother and grandmother. My deepest sympathy.
Saralee’s death is a loss to me of the loveliest friendship in my life. A friendship that began in the 1940’s and endured with love. The music of her fingers and the melody of her heart will remain with me forever.
Everyone who came to Saralee’s was greeted like visiting royalty. Might have been Daniel Barenboim, might have been the UPS man–same fortissimo exultation. I was a 16-year-old when I first knocked on that door, a friend of Lyra and April in need of help on a Brahms intermezzo. Saralee was generous with her time and effusive with encouragement, giving no sign that I’d bitten off far more than I could chew. Maybe she was just pleased to see that the flame of classical music was still flickering among the young. A decade later I joined her in worshipping at the First Church of Schubert–me as a listener, she as a performer. Many years after that first knock she cajoled me into learning the bass part of a gorgeous Schubert four-hand waltz. She, like Schubert, loved the camaraderie of chamber music, the source of the listening skills that made everyone she knew feel like the prize card her rolodex. Or maybe it was the other way around: her attunement to others led her naturally to chamber music. The piece suited us–her part virtuosic, mine a simple accompaniment and yet so melodic and charming that it almost stood on its own. Schubert probably dashed it off while waiting for the check at a coffeehouse and would probably have been amazed that for 20 years we gloried in it every December when I came to Santa Monica for the holidays–one of the best rituals of the season. This year was the first December without Saralee. But when the middle of the month arrived and the sun dipped toward the solstice, there came the day when I lifted the lid on the piano bench and pulled out my part, and played it through with all the repeats, and said out loud to her in her own voice, “That’s for you, kid!” I plan to keep the tradition.
Saralee is in my earliest memories. My family was close enough friends with her family that I grew up thinking that she was my aunt and April and Lyra were cousins! I attended school with April, starting in nursery school, continuing at Franklin Elementary, Lincoln Jr. High and through Santa Monica High School. Saralee, in my child’s eyes, was an ideal mother! She always had pets and loved to watch the children play with them. There was even a duck at one point! And I’ll never forget Peanut the dog! Through the years, Saralee always welcomed me into her home as if I was the most important thing in her life! After my mother died in 2001, my father, Morrie, and Saralee, to the great joy of my sister Glenna, my “cousins” Lyra and April, and myself, started a loving relationship that seemed to give both of them new life, happiness, and purpose. I will forever love Saralee for bringing such joy into my father’s life, at a time when he needed it most. Of course, that is what she did for all of us, family, friends, and strangers alike.