Dame Fanny Waterman dies at 100

Legendary piano teacher and co-founder of the Leeds International Piano Competition

Dame Fanny Waterman

One of the piano world’s most revered figures, Dame Fanny Waterman, has died at the age of 100. In an extraordinary career, Dame Fanny became the piano tutor to millions through her iconic series of tuition books ‘Piano Lessons’, and made the Leeds Piano Competition one of the most coveted prizes in all of music. Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia, Sunwook Kim and most recently Federico Colli and Eric Lu all won ‘the Leeds’, as it became known, catapulting them to musical stardom.

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Born in Leeds in 1920, Waterman went on to study at the Royal College of Music in London, with performances including an appearance at the 1942 Proms with Henry Wood. Teaching remained her passion, giving masterclasses across the world and releasing Piano Lessons with Fanny Waterman/Marion Harewood, a series of publications which included 30 volumes and has sold over three million copies. It was with Marion Harewood that Waterman went on to found the Leeds International Piano Competitoin in 1961, along with her late husband Geoffrey de Keyser.

Fanny Waterman remained as chairman and artistic director of the Leeds International Piano Competition until her retirement in 2014 at the age of 95. As president emeritus, she continued attending concerts. In March 2020, there were plans to celebrate her 100th birthday which sadly had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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She died in her residential care home in Ilkley, Yorkshire.