Fanny Waterman has died, aged 100

Fanny Waterman has died, aged 100


norman lebrecht

December 20, 2020

The founder of the Leeds International Piano Competition died early today at a great age.

Fanny was a force of fire in piano playing, attracting the best pianists to her jury and some of the most promising as competitors. She founded the event in 1963 with her husband, the Leeds physician, Geoffrey de Keyser and with Marion Thorpe,then the Countess of Harewood.

Fanny she remained chairman and artistic director until 2015.


Winners of the Leeds included Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia, Sunwook Kim and latterly Federico Colli and Eric Lu. András Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida, Lars Vogt and Denis Kozhukhin were among the runners-up.

Her book series Piano Lessons with Fanny Waterman/Marion Harewood sold more than three million copies.

In 2005 Fanny was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She was always on the ball, dominating a room, a bundle of energy that never flagged to the end. The city of Leeds will not be the same without her.

She is survived by two sons.



  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. But oh, a long and bountiful life indeed. She left a tremendous legacy in her competition, and in the hearts and minds of the many students she taught. I still hold dear a short session on Mozart sonatas we shared in NYC in 1984. An icon, a legend, forever to be remembered on many levels. She is now in eternal spiritual life with her dear husband, Geoffrey.

  • V. Lind says:

    Is Lang Lang sharing a stylist with Boris Johnson?

  • M McAlpine says:

    Example to us of someone who made all the years count.

  • John Humphreys says:

    A good age and the competition a fine testament to her energy.

  • Mimi T says:

    I remember very clearly being transfixed by Radu Lupu playing at the Leeds piano competition, even though, as a child, I hadn’t been learning for very long. I always show this inspirational playing to students. Thank you Fanny Waterman for your dedication to music.

    • christopher storey says:

      Mimi T : I too found Radu Lupu unforgettable, particularly inthe Final where he played Beethoven’s 3rd Concerto . Without FW’s great energy and persistence none of this would have happened, and although not everything she did bore fruit ( the row with John Lill was particularly unfortunate ) she was a long standing force for good in british music

  • Minutewaltz says:

    Is that David Tang with Fannie ‘n Lang Lang?

    • Graeme Hall says:

      Looks like it to me. Supposedly he was a more than half-decent amateur pianist though I never heard him play myself.

  • Minutewaltz says:

    Sorry, Fanny not Fannie

  • Dan says:

    Rest in Peace…