- 21 Dec 20
The Leeds International Piano Competition founder passed away peacefully at her residential care home in Yorkshire.
Renowned pianist, educator and Leeds International Piano Competition founder Dame Fanny Waterman has died at the age of 100.
The Leeds pianist is remembered creating one of the world’s most revered contests for keyboard players.
Her series of educational piano books, co-authored with Marion Harewood, have sold more than two million copies and introduced millions of young people to the instrument.
Waterman was also president of the Harrogate International Music Festival and a Patron of The Purcell School for Young Musicians.
Born in Leeds in 1920, Fanny Waterman began to study the piano when she was 17.
Only four years later, she opened the concert season of the Leeds Symphony Society and was awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Music.
She later studied piano with Cyril Smith, before the Second World War interrupted her course.
“I realised that my real mission apart from playing the piano was teaching,” she has said about her career as both an educator and a performer. “It is the greatest profession in the world.”
In 1950, after giving birth to her first child, she gave up her concert career and focused exclusively on teaching.
In 1961, alongside the Countess of Harewood and Roslyn Lyons, Waterman founded the Leeds International Piano Competition, which helped launch the careers of many great pianists.
“I want to leave a legacy that I have helped to discover some of the greatest young pianists in the world,” Waterman once said, “and that my teaching has influenced people, even those who haven't become musicians.”
Waterman chaired the competition for the first time in 1981 and retired in 2015 after a 34-year tenure.
She was appointed OBE in 1971, CBE in 2001 and DBE in the 2005 New Year Honours.
“I feel that music is my religion because it unites us all,” she said. “There’s no barrier of race, sex, age. I really believe that that’s the biggest power in my life.”
Dame Fanny Waterman is survived by her two sons, Robert and Paul, and six granddaughters.
Tributes have also poured in from fellow musicians Isabel Hunt, Fabian Hamilton, Rachel Topham, Aleksandra Myslek and the Royal College of Music.