Death of an American violinist, 77 years old – Slipped DiscSlipped Disc

Norman Lebrecht

January 28, 2021

The family of Daniel Kobialka, former second principal violinist of the San Francisco Symphony, have released the news of his passing:

Daniel Kobialka of San Antonio, Texas, at the age of 77, passed away Thursday, January 18, 2021. Daniel is survived by his life partner, Lilly B. Gardner; the children Lisa, Semyon, Alina and Ivan; two grandchildren; and his brother, Jan and his wife.

Daniel was an internationally renowned violinist, composer, teacher, and lecturer who for over forty years performed and recorded hit albums that made it to the New York Times Best Recordings list. Before retiring from professional life, Daniel engaged in a wide variety of activities surrounding his love for music and more specifically the violin. His efforts over the years have touched a wide range of the music industry, from the soloist to the second principal violin of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, to the owner of his own business. Bravely facing his last great challenge, this time with inclusion myositis disease (IBM), Daniel passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 77.

Born in 1943 in New York State, Daniel took an early interest in the violin. At 13, he made his public debut at Carnegie Hall in New York for rave reviews. Excelling in musical pursuits, he culminated his formal education by graduating from the Catholic University of America in 1971 with a doctorate in musical arts. A patriot, Daniel took a career break and enlisted for four years in the US Air Force Band during the Vietnam War. he was honorably released as Tech Sargent. The following years Daniel performed as a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, concertmaster for Leonard Bernstein, and a remarkable 30 years with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra where he retired as second principal violin. Some of Daniel’s musical endeavors included duties as a college professor, concertmaster, violinist, composer, as well as a successful producer and publisher of various musical works. It should be noted that he pioneered the research and development of the Zeta polyphonic violin and composed the “Concerto for the Zeta-Polyphonic Electronic Violin” commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and performed by him in 1991.

Not satisfied with just playing, Daniel founded his own company, LiSem Enterprises, Inc., in 1981. Over the years, this record label has allowed him to freely pursue his own interpretations of classics, folk, jazz and music. new age, as well as avant-garde music. His recordings remain available for sale and playback free of charge on websites such as Amazon and Pandora.

Most recently retired, Daniel continued to perform as concert master for the Kerrville Texas Symphony of the Hills, taught several private students, and oversaw all activities of LiSem Enterprises. While in his 60s, Daniel was diagnosed with IBM, a progressive muscle wasting disease, which he battled for many years. Despite this, Daniel continued to perform, teach, volunteer, and stay involved in the community.
Despite reduced use of his hands, Daniel immersed himself in composing new music, working with other musicians and teaching children and young adults. Until his last illness, Daniel was almost constantly present in his studio and had just completed his last album before his untimely death.

A devoted life partner of Lilly Gardner for 13 years and friend to countless people, Daniel was an accomplished musician, gentleman and over-generous. He will be sorely missed. In lieu of flowers, please donate on Daniel’s behalf to fund further IBM research to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.


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