“They call me Field Marshal Fanny,” she once said. “I am a busy breeches.” The daughter of a Russian Jew who had emigrated to Leeds, she will always be remembered for the creation of the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1961 with her late husband Dr Geoffrey de Keyser and Marion Thorpe, the then Countess of Harewood.
Popularly referred to as ‘the Leeds’, it proved hugely successful, attracting many of the best young pianists from around the world with Dame Fanny only stepping down as its chairman and artistic director in 2015.
Small in stature, her unique musical gifts saw her devote her life to promoting classical music in Leeds and teaching the piano – the sadness for so many will be that she was not afforded a final ovation to celebrate her 100th birthday earlier this year because ‘the Leeds’, too, was silenced by Covid.
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