Tributes paid to beloved Leeds musician who revolutionised local concert scene

Tributes have been paid to a popular Leeds businessman and veteran of the city's music following his death.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 4:45 am

Robert Tebb, who has died aged 94, was a businessman who became a well-known and respected musical director, administrator and benefactor in Leeds.

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Born in the city in 1927, Mr Tebb studied at Leeds Grammar School and went on to work in supermarket distribution.

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Robert Tabb, a former pupil of Leeds Grammar School, became a successful businessman and celebrated music conductor.

He later eventually became managing director of Leigh Lineham and Sharphouse, running supermarkets in Bradford and at various sites across East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

During the Second World War, he was evacuated with other boys from Leeds Grammar School to Hartington Hall, Burnsall in the Yorkshire dales, where he first developed his love for musical performance, playing piano at the village church and starting the school choir.

As a businessman, Mr Tebb became President of the Yorkshire Federation of Grocers, running Cash and Carry businesses in Bradford, Wakefield and Doncaster from a warehouse in Morley, ultimately selling the business and retiring at the age of 73.

In 1950, he formed a concert party at Headingley Methodist Church named Headingley Players and thus became a self-taught Musical Director. In 1961 he founded Headingley Amateur Operatic Society, which performed at Leeds Civic Theatre. The society became so successful and well respected that it moved its performances to Leeds Grand Theatre using professional orchestras and enjoyed many years of success in front of capacity crowds.

Mr Tebb started the annual Sounding Brass and Voices performances in 1964 at Leeds Town Hall with a choir of 200 voices accompanied by well-known local brass bands. These concerts routinely played to sell-out audiences.

During the 1970s Mr Tebb ran both a very successful summer school in Light Opera at Girton College Cambridge and the annual Christmas Carol Concerts at Leeds Town Hall from 1978 until 2002 involving children from The Leeds Grammar School Junior Choir.

Mr Tebb retired from the theatre and concerts in 2000 having conducted 50 different musicals and over 500 performances, as Musical Director for Leeds Amateur Operatic Society he was awarded the Musical Director award at the prestigious Waterford International Festival for Light Opera.

Meanwhile, Mr Tebb worked for 25 years as both Chairman of Leeds College of Music and Deputy Administrator of the Leeds International Piano Competition. He oversaw the college's move to a new building whilst also assisting the late Dame Fanny Waterman in developing the Piano Competition into one of the finest piano competitions in the world.

In retirement he was appointed as Deputy Warden of Devonshire Hall at Leeds University. A position he held for several years.

Throughout his later life Mr Tebb remained close to his roots as a regular benefactor to Leeds Grammar School, supporting music scholarships and the installation of the new school organ.

Robert is survived by his niece Sally and her family.

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