Faber Music educational author, Dame Fanny Waterman, celebrates her 100th Birthday.

Dame Fanny Waterman has occupied an eminent position in the piano teaching world for many decades. Her emergence as a visionary teacher lead to the founding of the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1963, for which she is now Life President and Founder Director Emeritus, and relationships with many internationally renowned pianists whose lives she has touched through her work.

Her best-selling piano books have sold millions of copies worldwide and inspired countless generations of young pianists.

Born into an artistic family in impoverished circumstances, her prodigious musical talent and sheer determination was her passport out of hardship, leading to recognition as one of the most talented young pianists of her generation.

For many years, she was a highly sought-after jury member of international competitions including the Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Horowitz, Hamamatsu, Chopin, Bach, Vina del Mar and UNISA. Several of her students have been prize winners in the Leeds, Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, Busoni, London and Geneva competitions.

In recognition of her services to music, Dame Fanny was awarded the OBE in 1971, the CBE in 1999 and in 2005 she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She has also been awarded Honorary Doctorates by the Universities of Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan and York and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Music. 

For nine years she served as Vice-President of the World Federation of International Music Competitions from which she received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. Earlier, in 2001, the Incorporated Society of Musicians bestowed on her its Distinguished Musician Award for her outstanding contribution to music in this country.

In 2004 Dame Fanny received the Freedom of the City of Leeds, the highest honour the City can bestow and, in 2009, was to be invited to become President of the esteemed Harrogate International Festivals. Dame Fanny was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2010.

“With every honour I have received, with all these big events, I wish that my husband and family were here,” she recently told Pianist magazine. “They so wanted me to do well, my parents. We were so poor.”

In 2015, at the age of 95, Dame Fanny retired as Chairman of the Leeds International Piano Competition and also published her autobiography, Dame Fanny Waterman: My Life in Music. She continues to involve herself in music education through projects such as Young Audiences, Live Music Now! and the Harrogate Festival, explaining that ‘you’re born with a passion for music and it never leaves you’. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Music Teacher Awards in 2016.

Author and friend of Dame Fanny, Alan Bennett describes her as, ‘not someone to be trifled with! This is a woman who, well into her nineties, thinks nothing of flying to Beijing one week and Toronto the next. She is a phenomenon and she is unique.’