Legendary piano teacher and ‘force of nature’ Dame Fanny Waterman dies aged 100

Dame Fanny founded the Leeds International Piano Competition


The legendary piano teacher Dame Fanny Waterman has died aged 100 at her residential care home in Yorkshire.

As the founder and President Emeritus of The Leeds International Piano Competition and an honorary member of the Royal Philharmonic Society, she became an internationally acclaimed musician.

Dame Fanny’s series of teaching books, titled ‘Me and My Piano’, have sold more than two million copies worldwide.

It was confirmed on Sunday that she had died peacefully at her care home.Following her death, Adam Gatehouse, Artistic Director of The Leeds International Piano Competition, said: “Dame Fanny was a force of nature, a one-off, a unique figure in our cultural firmament who infused everyone with whom she came into contact with a passion and enthusiasm and sheer love of music, particularly piano music, that was totally impossible to resist. 

“From nothing she created the world’s most prestigious piano competition and chose to do so not in London but in Leeds, at the time a dark, industrial but incredibly lively and vibrant town in the North of England.

“From small beginnings it swiftly grew as word spread that here was a competition where music and the musicians came first. The lives she has touched, both through the Competition, but also through her teaching and piano books, are too numerous to mention. “

From a traditional Leeds family, she told the JC in 2010: "Everybody knows I'm Jewish, of course they do".

But she added: "I feel that music is my religion because it unites us all. There's no barrier of race, sex, age. I really believe that that's the biggest power in my life."

Dame Fanny’s husband, Dr Geoffrey de Keyser, with whom founded she founded the Leeds piano competition,   died in 2001. The couple have two sons.

The Leeds competition had planned a special day of events to mark her 100th birthday on March 22, but it was  changed to a private gathering due to the coronavirus outbreak.

She had stepped down from running the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2015 – but told the BBC earlier this year: “I didn't think it was the right time. I wanted to be there for ever.”

Her father was  Myer Waterman, a Russian Jewish immigrant who came to Britain to work as a jeweller.


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