Dame Fanny was a gifted pianist herself before turning to teaching and setting up the competition she ran for 54 years before stepping down in 2015.
World renowned piano teacher and founder of world-renowned Leeds International Piano has died peacefully in her residential care home in Ilkley, Yorkshire.
Its current artistic director said she was “a force of nature [and] one-off”.
Adam Gatehouse went on to call her “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”.
“From nothing she created the world’s most prestigious piano competition and chose to do so not in London but in Leeds,” he continued.
“The lives she has touched, both through the competition but also through her teaching and piano books, are too numerous to mention.”
Born in Leeds in 1920, Dame Fanny won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London in 1941 and performed at the Proms the following year.
But she turned her back on the concert platform to teach, giving masterclasses on six continents and earning the soubriquet Field Marshal Fanny.
She also co-devised a series of teaching books, Me and My Piano. It ran to 30 volumes, sold more than three million copies and has never been out of print.
Yet her most lasting accomplishment remains the Leeds International Piano Competition, which she co-founded with her late husband Dr Geoffrey de Keyser in 1961.
First held in 1963, “The Leeds” helped launch the careers of such noted piano players as Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia, Sunwook Kim and Sir András Schiff.
Dame Fanny stepped down as the competition’s chairwoman and artistic director in 2015, saying it was time “to hand over the reins”.
Earlier this year, however, she admitted she had not wanted to step aside and said the decision to replace her had been “misguided”.
“I didn’t think it was the right time,” she told the BBC’s Rebecca Jones. “I wanted to be there forever… because I had many, many years more to give.”
In a statement, the competition said her “continuing involvement” as its President Emeritus was “deeply valued and encouraged”.
media captionDame Fanny Waterman did not want to retire from the competition she founded
Dame Fanny’s services to music saw her awarded an OBE in 1971, made a CBE in 1999 and become a dame in 2005.
Plans had been in place to mark her 100th birthday in March but were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Leeds International Piano Competition is held every three years and will hold its 20th edition in 2021.