Dr Robert Blackburn

Remembering Dr Robert Blackburn

Thursday, 1 October, 2020

Alumni in Music will be sad to hear that Robert Blackburn died on 24 September from cancer. Robert was a much loved and admired member of the Music staff at Bath Spa University: he was Principal Lecturer in Music from 1981-2003 and Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Art and Music between 1984 and 2003.

Robert had degrees in Modern History from The Queen’s College, Oxford and in Music from Manchester University, where he also took an MA in Comparative Literature. Before moving to Bath he was Senior Lecturer in Music at Bede College, Durham, where he gained a PhD in 1977.

On retirement from Bath Spa University he became an energetic Convenor for Literature and Humanities at Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) and moved to Chippenham where he later served as Honorary President of the Chippenham Civic Society. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2012.

Robert was indefatigable in his interests and enthusiasm: his love for the piano was matched by his passion for literature. He enjoyed discussing a wide range of subjects and was particularly interested in the music, art and literature of fin de siècle Vienna. Indeed, one of the final events he arranged at BRLSI in 2019 was a symposium entitled ‘Decadence & Creativity: Vienna in the Time of Freud, Klimt, Mahler and Wittgenstein’.

Robert was hugely supportive and generous to students at Bath Spa and took a great interest in their ongoing careers. An example of his generosity was the Robert Blackburn Composition Prize which he endowed for a number of years. He continued to maintain his devotion to the University to the end of his life – his last visit to the University was earlier this year for the opening of the Locksbrook Campus.

Robert is survived by his wife Isabel and by his daughters.

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