The History of the Competition

Founded by Dame Fanny Waterman with her husband Dr Geoffrey de Keyser and the late Marion Thorpe.

  • Competition Founders Dame Fanny Waterman (left) and Marion Thorpe (right) with Benjamin Britten

Since its foundation in 1961, the Leeds International Piano Competition has discovered many of the greatest pianists of our time and escalated their status to world fame. Artists such as Murray Perahia, Radu Lupu and Dimitri Alexeev launched their careers by taking first prize at ‘the Leeds’; Sir AndrĂ¡s Schiff, Peter Donohoe and Mitsuko Uchida, meanwhile, are among the Competition’s illustrious finalists. The triennial event is securely established as one of the world’s most prestigious piano competitions. Its prize packages are recognised internationally for their long-term significance, highly valued among professional pianists under the age of 30 in terms of their contributions to artistic development, profile building and career advancement.

The Competition is rightly recognised by the international musical community as one of the world’s most important platforms for the emerging generation of young professional pianists, offering outstanding talents invaluable opportunities to advance their careers and develop into the great artists of the future. 

Under the leadership of Dame Fanny Waterman, the competition entered a new era as it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013.