*1908 Warszawa, †16 I 1945 Warszawa
Róża Etkin – winner 3rd award I Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw (1927).
Róża Etkin was born in Warsaw. Exceptionally musically talented, she began learning piano as a very young child. Not yet having completed ten years of age, she began studying at the F. Chopin Higher Music Academy in Warsaw, in Aleksander Michałowski's class, the famous pianist and pedagogue, who was a student of Moscheles, Tausig, Liszt and Mikuli.
She gave her debut stage performance 20 June 1920, when, as a student of the Chopin Academy, she performed, with full bravura, Paganini-Liszt's Etudes in E major and Mendelssohn-Liszt's Wedding March. One year later, she again proved herself in public, playing, among other pieces, Bach-Busoni's Chaconna. At the age of 16, she performed with the orchestra of the Warsaw Philharmonic, directed by Grzegorz Fitelberg, Rachmaninov's III Piano Concerto D minor, op. 30. In 1926, she fascinated the spectators at the Warsaw Philharmonic with a wonderful interpretation of Liszt's Piano Concerto in E major (April) and Bach's Piano Concerto in D minor (October).
Professor Aleksander Michałowski, who formed Etkin artistically, was proud of his pupil's rapid development of her musical gifts. In 1926, when preparations began for the First International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, he believed that her participation was among the natural order of things and predicted that she would walk away a winner. Preparing for the competition, what he did not foresee was that his favourite pupil would leave him for the pedagogical care of Zbigniew Drzewiecki, professor at the Warsaw Conservatory.
The Chopin Competition took place in January 1927; Etkin received the third award – she was the youngest participant.
In May 1927, Etkin left for Berlin to continue her piano studies at the Klindworth-Scharwenk Conservatory under Moritz Mayer-Mahr. Her Berlin debut took place in May 1927 at the Bechstein Hall, after which the influential musicologist and critic Dr. Hugo Leichtentritt wrote: "Róża Etkin's first concert made an exceptional impression. The young artist distinguishes herself with the highest attributes of a pianist: brilliant virtuosity, gripping temperament and exceptionally subtle musical organisation. She played Chopin with great expressiveness, but likewise turned out to be an equally great interpreter of new music (Ravel, Skriabin, Szymanowski)."
In Berlin, she met Ryszard Moszkowski, son of the composer Maurycy Moszkowski's brother, whom she shortly married.
Etkin had a broad repertoire. She played Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Schumann and Brahms but did not shy away from pieces by modern composers – Ravel, Skriabin, Rachmaninov (II and III Piano Concertos), Szymanowski and Kaper. She often included Szymanowski's Variations on Polish Folk Themes in B minor, op. 10, Etudes 12, op. 33 and Mazurkas, op. 50 as well as pieces composed by her school friend, Bolesław Kaper (Piano Sonata among others), who later went on to become a famous composer for films in Hollywood.
Róża Etkin lived in Warsaw during World War II, forced to seek shelter among various Polish friends due to her Jewish origins. On 16 January 1945, she was discovered by the Germans and was murdered along with her husband in the Warsaw neighbourhood of Żoliborz.
Reminiscing about his student, Zbigniew Drzewiecki wrote: "absorption of [different] styles, rapidity of committing to memory, independence of her fingering technique and chord jumps she was incredible.... She had rather small hands and it seemed supernatural how she managed with all difficulties."