Dame Fanny Waterman, forceful founder of the Leeds International Piano Competition – obituary


Outside the competition, Fanny Waterman continued to teach piano into her eighties and was the joint author (with Marion Harewood) of 40 graded tutors that have been used by just about everybody who has ever aspired to learn the instrument. The publication of the first Waterman/Harewood Series in 1967 launched Faber Music’s educational list. Their piano tutor series Me and My Piano, published in 1989, became a bestseller. In On Teaching Piano and Performance (1983), Fanny Waterman distilled the knowledge and experience of her teaching career.

Fanny Waterman remained as chairman and artistic director of the Leeds International Piano Competition until her retirement in 2014 at the age of 95. Earlier this year, in an interview with the BBC, however, she complained that she had been forced out of her role due to her advancing years. “I didn’t think it was the right time,” she said “I wanted to be there forever … I had many, many more years to give of my own passion, my own knowledge, and everything.”

Fanny Waterman was honorary president of the Harrogate International Festivals from 2009 and patron of the Purcell School for Young Musicians. She was appointed OBE in 1971, CBE in 2001 and DBE in 2005. Her contribution to the city of Leeds was recognised in April 2006 when she was given the Freedom of the City.

Until his death in 2001, her husband, Geoffrey de Keyser, with whom she had two sons, played a valuable and active part in the Leeds Competition and travelled with his wife all over the world as she worked as an international juror and as vice-president of the World Federation of Music Competitions.

Dame Fanny Waterman, born March 22 1920, died December 20 2020


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