Outline of the
(to July, 2011; Bowdlerized for your
by Bill Robinson
billrobinsonmusic at yahoo.com
1955--Born in Denton, Texas, the Home of
and Culture. Eyes were closed like a cat's for the first three days,
gradually opened. Fond of felines since. All fingers were the same
length at first, nurse at birth said "Get this kid to a piano".
1958--Family started 3 years of pizza production in our house, sold
18,000 out the door. I developed an affection for garlic, social life
deteriorated. Perfected Elvis Presley imitation, only venture into
1961--Our family felt out of place in Texas, even in a college town,
and we moved to the coast of Massachusetts, where I learned to love the
1962--Frustrated with piano and quit, still can't play worth
beans--must be karma.
1965--Started violin lessons, rather behind the competition.
1967-9--After miserable years enduring public school, got scholarship
to private elementary school where I learned that I was not only not
rich, but rather neurotic and ready to leave home
1969-73--which I did by boarding at Phillips Academy, Andover Mass.;
gained a goofy snob accent, intellectual presumptions. Came to school
uptight know-it-all brat, left school very well suited to function in
that environment, and evidently nowhere else! Started study of Bhagavad
Gita, meditated, introduced to yoga by my mother, remembered past lives
and helped others do the same, magnificent first psychedelic
experiences. Switched from plans to be a scientist to music
composition. (Don't worry, I eventually switched back after thirty
years of starvation!)
1973-4--Turned down Harvard, went to Eastman School of Music, got a
mediocre grade in English from a teacher whose teeth were flattened by
gnashing. God intervened; I lost my scholarship and had to leave before
losing mind due to cold, dank weather and neurotic social conditions.
Little maturity in evidence, failed to switch to some more rational
field of study, such as, say, physics.
1974--Returned to Denton and NTSU. Studied violin, composition,
conducting, no employable skills. No haircut for four years, except by
1976--Height of Strangeness; during Homecoming Weekend, ran in election
for Homecoming Phenomenon (not wanting title of "Homecoming Queen"),
got 2000 votes, came in second. Graduate-level study of conducting,
including "Rite of Spring".
1978--My conducting teacher, head of the orchestra at NTSU, promised
performance of an orchestral work, starting many years of my labor on
orchestral scores and parts, none of which have been used.
1978-80--Started having severe pain in hips and back, natural therapy
didn't work. Wrote series of 64 movements in 21 sonatas for solo
violin, one movement for each hexagram in the "I Ching". Just before
finishing the last sonata, had to quit playing violin due to arthritis
in neck and shoulders. Sold the instrument in 1982.
1979--spring 1980--Left Texas for Boston to study macrobiotics.
Exposure to Normal Working World, temporary office work, impressed me
as Heart of Darkness. As my health worsened, macrobiotic friends and
teachers saw me as defective and guilty of disease in accordance with
their interpretation of traditional Japanese morality. I alienated
friends and family with rigid attitude. Started strange physics
experiment in basement, blew fuses, attracted fire department at 4 am
due to dense smoke, failed to achieve transmutation. The usual.
Spring 1980--Couldn't take the city anymore, moved to rural inland
Maine, two miles from the road in extreme isolation. Lived in tent
during summer, fixed up a hunting cabin for the following winter,
foraged the woods for wild food. Finished first mature, big work, "The
Goldbug Variations" for two pianos, later arranged for various groups
including orchestra. Two years of work, played once (piano version) for
25 people in 1982. Ego couldn't take a hint. First major attack of
arthritis. Wore out calculator trying to figure out Life, the Universe,
and Everything, with wild effort at a theory including transcendental
planes…frustrated with lack of training and no experimental basis.
1981--Spent winter in extreme conditions; tracked snow in door, swept
out three days later. Two showers in four months, every week or so
would melt snow for sponge bath. Developed interesting aroma, kept
bears out of basement. Ran out of money in early spring (spent $500
total all year!), went to gather seaweed on the coast of Maine. With
condition worsening, found out diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis in
back and hips; qualified for government disability payments (SSI) as
100% disabled. Back to NTSU to study physics and math, finally to get
good training and skills.
1982--Constant severe pain, went to hospital and had one hip joint
replaced. Six months later, just coming off crutches, got mugged, leg
broken and head beaten by an angry man out on bond for a rape charge.
Quit school as too physically difficult after 1 ½ years of
physics and math. Finished Symphony #2, had first recital in 5 ½
years. Was expecting confirmation of delusion of grandeur momentarily.
Made break with macrobiotics with extreme prejudice, at long last, and
1984--Back to school, got degree in composition. Wrote a big piano
concerto, many works for live performance by four or five synthesizers,
all subsequently severely revised or discarded (twenty years later).
First Rainbow Gathering in California, very amazing. 20,000 hippies in
1985--Bought first car, 1962 VW bug, just about functional, drove alone
with no heat in sub-freezing fog and ice to Denver and back to visit my
sister Akanda; bought local papers en route to stuff in holes, drove
while in sleeping bag despite interference with pedals. Engine froze
solid in after-dark rush hour traffic on interstate going into Denver,
wasn't killed due to sharp reflexes. Started to build a
transcommunication device for experimental basis for transcendental
physics. Weird stuff.
1986--Health improved quite a bit due to weightlifting, brief steroid
therapy, and anti-inflammatory medicine, also activity of physics
project. Tired of Texas, moved to southern New Mexico.
1987--Project stalled in desert; spent summer on the east coast with my
new Klepper sea kayak, started major affection for kayak sailing and
paddling. Moved to North Carolina after seeing the state during the
Rainbow Gathering there.
1988-9--Moved to countryside north of Charlotte, good place to do
project; built a mahogany kayak as well. Many hours cutting metal,
plastic, glass, 2x4s, in the name of Research. Built Most Bizarre
Creation in History of Fringe Science, including a geodesic dome 24'
across, 18' tall with a steerable 1400 lb. antenna suspended from the
peak, and a trailer full of gizmos.
1990--Spring, turned on project, wouldn't work. Couldn't figure how to
continue project with bad health and no career. Returned to writing
music although no prospects for performances or recordings.
1991-First half of year, constructed electric violins with adaptive
gear to hold the instrument and support my bow arm; but after six
months it hurt too bad to continue. Got into a difference of opinion
with the government, will relate the story when the culture has
1995--In February I started designing a small fusion reactor based on
sonoluminescence. I continued on this until April '96 when I saw this
approach is hopeless… Also taught myself yacht design, using the
1997-After years of legal difficulties and severe poverty, got back on
SSI and Medicaid, then had my artificial hip removed and replaced in
September. SSI back pay helped me get an old car. Continued strong
interest in exotic approaches to fusion.
1998--2001After recovery from the surgery I sold my car and bought a
25-year-old Winnebago (in VERY bad shape!) and after minimal fixing up
drove away from North Carolina in mid-June 1998. Two years cruising
mostly in the southwest, then a year parked in Charlotte NC applying
for Vocational Rehabilitation help to go back to college. Then August
2001 I started at NCSU as a student in physics. Bought a mobility
scooter and a car, moved to Raleigh in August to start on the Academic
Path to Enlightenment....a BS in three years, then (eventually) to the
Sacred Doctorate, along with figuring out Life, the Universe, and
Everything. Having a blast although 26 years behind my fellow
sophomores-getting my aging brain to weasel through a lot of new
tricks, quite a challenge. Finally am in a harmonious environment where
what I have to offer is valued.
2002-invented and constructed a 6-string electric violin that I held
like a cello, with adaptive gear, to get around arthritic limitations.
Also bought an old upright piano and am back to composing music.
Arranged Bach and my own solo violin music for the 6-string; and had a
curved bow that allowed polyphonic playing. Attended the local Hare
Krishna temple for months but then stepped back from that. Studied
plasma physics and started getting a good grounding in professional
skills. Now armed with a recumbent tricycle--so many pedestrians, so
little time…Vocational Rehabilitation bought me digital hearing aids to
address the hearing loss evident for a couple of years.
2003-My mother generously gave me her upright piano, so composition is
much more fun now. Spent the summer doing undergrad level nuclear
physics at Ann Arbor and writing, among other things, a chamber
concerto for piano, string orchestra and timpani; a string
quartet/string orchestra piece, and several vocal/choral works. Had to
quit even the highly customized electric violin as the arthritis is
just too severe. Converted old ink scores into the new Finale format
that lets people hear a synthesized version. September: completed my
first CD. November: first performance by an ensemble when the Raleigh
Civic Chamber Orchestra played Nocturne and Minuet for string
2004 —Spring: Accepted here at NCSU
to continue physics in grad school. Completed 2nd CD, 11
Sonatas for Solo Violin/Viola. Summer: wrote music like mad, all for
winds and brass. Fall: started grad school (very difficult and tiring!)
and put a new web site up, a big step forward. Proposed a research
project—a novel form of plasma trap that might turn into an interesting
reactor of some sort—fusion? Made more money grading papers in one
semester than all the wages reported to the government since
2005 —Winter: My mother died
February 6 after a long illness in Nashville, Tennessee. Released 3rd
and 4th CDs. Spring semester saw composition of “Gayatri
Sonata” for ‘cello and piano; last movement premiered here at NCSU in
the fall. Then spent all summer either on the road (trip out west) or
working on “Art of the Synthesizer”, a work from the mid-eighties
originally intended for live performance by five synths. Now it’s
designed to sequence and is on the 4th CD. November, premier
performance of “Elements of Wind and Wood” for woodwind quintet in
Nashville by symphony musicians.
2006 — Finished “Der Jammerwock”, a
setting of “Jabberwocky” in German (!) for either nonet or chamber
orchestra and baritone solo. Started construction of the fusion project
in August in a lab at NCSU, making great progress. Had a recital at
Duke consisting of several of my solo violin sonatas played by a Eric
Pritchard and some students. Wrote a sonata for flute and piano, and a
trio for oboe, violin and piano requested by Joseph and Mary Kay
Robinson. Next completed “Quartet for a New Beginning” for violin,
clarinet, cello and piano, and at the end of the year started Ananda
Concerto for violin and orchestra for Eric and released my 5th CD.
the concerto; wrote a sonata for violin and piano, again for Eric, and
my old Variations on the Grosse Fuge in its final incarnation
quartet and orchestra, and another version for piano quintet. Then I
Songs, three songs for soprano, violin and orchestra, and put out
my 6th CD
in November. The physics continued well with things up and running, but
long way to go. Still chasing them anomalies! Had a hard time getting
metal sphere to low pressures.
2008—Completed Grand Serenade for
clarinet, cello and
piano, then Ananda Dances for string
quartet by the end of March. Spring semester, battled my way through
Statistical Mechanics; fall, final physics class (Classical Mechanics),
all the time for research. Wrote A Major
Piano Sonata* (*not actually in A Major). Near Thanksgiving,
started Mantra Cantata, for SATB chorus and
either full orchestra or piano quintet, in three movements (33 minutes).
Quartet, resident at Duke, with Randall Love on piano, premiered Variations on the Grosse Fuge at the NC
Museum of Art in January. Moved the reactor to Triangle Universities
Laboratory at Duke from February to early August to see if I could get
from fusion (didn’t!). Finished lab work in early September and started
the thesis. On June 3 took a break from the Mantra
Canata to write Ananda Duet for
violin and cello at the request of Eric Pritchard; later that day I
that my sister Akanda had died the night before of a heart attack at
age 62 in
Colorado. The cantata was complete by Thanksgiving, then started Clarinet Sextet for clarinet in A,
string quartet and extra cello. Eric Pritchard premiered an arrangement
of Ananda Dances for violin and piano with
Randall Love at Duke.
a memorial concert for Akanda at Duke on Feb. 10 featuring my music
fine local musicians. The Quartet for a
New Beginning was premiered in January and performed again at the
concert by Aurora Musicalis. Ananda Songs
and Ananda Duet were premiered at the
memorial concert, and Gayatri Sonata
had its concert hall premier. Eric Pritchard and Randall Love recorded
released the first commercial CD of my music, Ananda Dances,
Ananda Duet at a
fundraising concert for Mallarme Chamber Players.
I defended my thesis on March 23,
and after passing was hired by the NCSU physics department for next
year as a
lecturer. I graduated with a PhD on May 15.
January 1--July 22. Big recital at Duke on February 22 with premieres
of Aditya Hridayam for oboe,
and piano; A Major Piano Sonata*(not
really in A Major); Birthday
Trio for violin, viola and cello; and The Three Kinds of Music for
violin, cello and piano.