The idea of staging a piano competition in Leeds was that of local piano teacher and former concert pianist, Fanny Waterman. In bringing that idea to fruition Fanny Waterman was assisted by her husband Dr Geoffrey de Keyser and by Marion Thorpe, then Countess of Harewood. The first Competition was won by Michael Roll before a jury chaired by Sir Arthur Bliss. In 1966 and 1969 the chair of the jury was William Glock, who was followed by Lord Boyle of Handsworth for the next three competitions. In 1981 Dame Fanny Waterman, as she was to become in 2005, chaired the jury for the first time, continuing to do so until her retirement in 2015.
Leeds Town Hall has hosted all but one of the Competition’s finals (the exception being in 1975, when it was closed for extensive renovation). It provides a magisterial backdrop to the conclusion of the Competition, and it plays host to many notable Competition alumni every year.