Dame Fanny Waterman has achieved legendary status not only as a piano teacher and co-author of the Waterman/Harewood Piano Series, but also as founder and organiser of the prestigious Leeds International Pianoforte Competition of which she is Chairman and Artistic Director. The enormous contribution she has made to the city was recognised in April this year when she was given the Freedom of the City of Leeds – the last was Nelson Mandela in 2001.
Councillor Wakefield stated: ‘The greatest accolade, the greatest award that Leeds can give is the Freedom of the City. You built the competition into what it is now. It is a great world event, with an explosion of musical talent.’ Fanny has been awarded the OBE (1971) and CBE (1999), Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Leeds and York, the Distinguished Musician Award from the Incorporated Society of Musicians in 2001 (joining Sir Simon Rattle, Sir William Walton and Jacqueline du Pré) and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Federation of International Music Competitions in 2002.
The publication of the Waterman/Harewood Series in 1967 launched Faber Music’s educational list and firmly established its reputation in the market. Piano Lessons Book 1 was one of the first ‘modern’ piano tutors, written by Fanny Waterman and Marion Harewood, daughter of the musicologist and Schoenberg pupil, Erwin Stein. Their piano tutor series Me and My Piano, published in 1989, is now a best-seller in Faber Music’s educational list; combined sales of their publications will soon reach two million copies.
At 84, Fanny goes from strength to strength. Earlier this year she was in China, dazzling her audience with her insight and experience in a series of masterclasses. A Chinese edition of Me and my piano has just been launched there, and Fanny plans to do another tour of the country in 2005. In the same year, she will be a member of the jury of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw and the Bach in Leipzig, and Chairman of the jury of the thirteenth Hong Kong (Asia) Piano Open Competition.
By tradition, a Freeman of the City is entitled to drive his or her sheep across Leeds Bridge. Although it is doubtful that Fanny will take up this particular opportunity, it is clear that she has many other plans to drive forward. Faber Music congratulate her for this latest achievement and look forward to celebrating her 85th birthday in 2005.