I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.

Robert Blackburn Obituary

Robert Blackburn, my father, passed away at the age of 80. He was an exceptional academic, a talented musician, and a remarkable university teacher who was fondly called Dr. Bob by his pupils.

Born in Preston, Lancashire, Robert grew up in Chorley with a librarian father named Robert Blackburn and his mother, Annie (nee Thompson), who was a primary school headteacher. His love for the piano grew at an early age, and his prowess in classical music became notable at Bolton School.

Robert received his degree in history from Queen’s College, Oxford in 1961 before enrolling for a Bachelor of Music degree at Manchester University, which he completed in 1964. In 1965, he married Barbara Mount-Stephen and began his teaching career at Strangeways and Repton School in Derbyshire. In 1968, he became a senior lecturer at the University of Durham and settled with his wife and two daughters in Witton Gilbert.

In 1977, Robert completed his PhD on German and Austrian operas. The Margaret Thatcher administration brought about education cuts, which made Robert leave the north to assume the position of the head of music at Bath College of Higher Education (now Bath Spa University). Robert loved his time at Bath and became the assistant dean of research of the newly created Faculty of Arts and Music in 1984.

Robert was a passionate and experienced teacher who often played the piano during lectures. His legacy lives on with a whole generation of Bath music pupils who fondly called him Dr. Bob.

Robert retired in 2003, and after divorcing Barbara, he married Isabel Rodgers. He did not slow down after retirement, becoming a voluntary convenor for literature and humanities at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. From 2010 to 2019, he organized five symposia on historical arts and was always up to date with cultural affairs, even while travelling with Isabel.

Robert is survived by his wife Isabel, his two daughters Donna and myself, and his three grandchildren: Cassian, Cora, and Jonah.


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