Dame Fanny Waterman to step down from Leeds International Piano Competition

The 94-year-old founder and artistic director will retire from her role in 2015

Dame Fanny Waterman (Andy Manning)

Dame Fanny Waterman has announced that she is to retire from Leeds International Piano Competition.

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The 94-year-old founder, chairman and artistic director of the festival will step down after the 2015 event, which takes place in August and September.

Waterman founded the triennial competition in 1961 with her late husband Dr Geoffrey de Keyser and pianist Marion Thorpe. Since then it has become one of the most prestgious piano competitions in the world, boasting a roster of distinguished winners, including Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia along with finalists that include András Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida and Lars Vogt.

Waterman says: ‘I look back with pride at the international eminence the competition has achieved over the past half century. The cottage industry we dreamed up in 1961 has become, as Denis Healey, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, once said “one of the musical wonders of the world”.’

‘I feel ready now, after the 2015 Competition, to hand over the reins, confident that it will continue to thrive and grow, offering a platform of opportunities for young pianists, music lovers and audiences long into the future,’ she adds.

Waterman studied piano with Tobias Matthay and Cyril Smith and has had an eminent performing and teaching career, playing at the BBC Proms with Sir Henry Wood in 1942 and publishing a series of best-selling educational books. She was made honorary member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2010.

Patron of the Leeds International Piano Competition, Dame Janet Baker, says ‘It has been a privilege to watch this courageous, indomitable lady hold on to the values on which she built this competition. She has helped young musicians fulfill their promise, something dear to her heart and has guided "The Leeds" to its present international reputation because of her integrity, her passion, her personal charisma and infinite capacity for hard work.’

Photo: Andy Manning

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