Dame Fanny Waterman, founder and President Emeritus of The Leeds International Piano Competition
Dame Fanny Waterman, founder and President Emeritus of The Leeds International Piano Competition

Dame Fanny Waterman 22 March 1920 – 20 December 2020

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Dame Fanny Waterman, founder and President Emeritus of The Leeds International Piano Competition, died peacefully yesterday at her residential care home in Ilkley, Yorkshire at the age of 100.

Born in Leeds (22 March, 1920), Dame Fanny Waterman founded the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1961 with her late husband Dr Geoffrey de Keyser and Marion Thorpe CBE, then the Countess of Harewood. The first event followed in 1963 and she remained its Chairman & Artistic Director until her retirement in 2015 at the age of 95. As President Emeritus she attended live concerts and events until the beginning of 2020, although ambitious plans to celebrate her 100th Birthday in March 2020 had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘The Leeds’, as it is affectionately known, is one of the world’s foremost music competitions which attracts the world’s finest young pianists. In recent years The Leeds spread its wings internationally, holding First Rounds in Berlin, New York and Singapore in 2018 and reached a worldwide audience of over 1 million views on medidici.tv.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:

Dame Fanny Waterman’s outstanding contribution to music has undoubtedly placed Leeds firmly at the forefront of the international music scene. Her unique tenacity, drive, passion and unending love of music, led her to create the world’s most prestigious piano competition, which she chose to do not in London but in her home city of Leeds where she continued to live and teach and inspire so many people. We shall be forever indebted to her remarkable achievements. Our thoughts are with her two sons Robert and Paul, six granddaughters and all those whose lives she touched.



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