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Print version 

(click on title to download)
Second Edition

Now available for download, First Edition written January 1--July 22, 2011,
Second Edition finished March 14, 2020
the definitive account of the adventurous life;

PDF file, 10.4 MB; 147,000 words,  243 pages.

Available for purchase from Amazon ($12)
Audio book version
(First Edition) (mp3)
[total duration: 16 hours]

 Chapter One,
Genesis (1500 BCE-1955 CE)  [41:30]
Chapter Two, Inferno  (1955-1961) [10:36]
Chapter Three, Puritans   (1961-1969) [52:30]
Chapter Four, Epistle to the Phillipians (1969-1973)
Part One    [45:20]
Part Two  [55:23]
Chapter Five, Musica Neurotica (1973-1977)
Part One   [52:23]
Part Two   [47:30]

Chapter Six, Macrobiotica (1977-1981)
Part One   [1:12:48]
Part Two   [1:17:44]
Chapter Seven, Numbers (1981-1984)
Part One  [46:32]

Part Two [39:51]
Chapter Eight, Revelations (1985-1991)
Part One  [1:29:55]

Part Two  [1:11:55]
Chapter Nine, Judges (1991-1996)
Part One  [1:25:45]

Part Two  [53:34]
Chapter Ten, Exodus (1996-2001)
Part One  [54:22]

Part Two  [56:31]
Chapter Eleven, Book of (Part-time) Job (2001-2011)  [7:39]

Especially for my classmates from Phillips Academy, Andover, Class of 1973, here is our yearbook:
Pot Pourri '73 (large file, 143 MB)     (small file, 21 MB)

And for those who don't have time for the book, there's a little biography below.

Outline of the Humble Life
(to March, 2020; Bowdlerized for your Reading Convenience)
by Bill Robinson
billrobinsonmusic at yahoo.com

1955--Born in Denton, Texas, the Home of Grace 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 popular music.

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 ocean.

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 attrition.

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 good riddance.
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 the mountains.

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 changed.

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 physics/math training.

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 orchestra.

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 1970--$6400!

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.

2007--Finished the concerto; wrote a sonata for violin and piano, again for Eric, and arranged my old Variations on the Grosse Fuge in its final incarnation for string quartet and orchestra, and another version for piano quintet. Then I wrote Ananda 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 with a long way to go. Still chasing them anomalies! Had a hard time getting my big 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), then 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).

2009—The Ciompi 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 Nuclear Laboratory at Duke from February to early August to see if I could get neutrons from fusion (didn’t!). Finished lab work in early September and started writing 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 learned 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.

2010 —had a memorial concert for Akanda at Duke on Feb. 10 featuring my music with many fine local musicians. The Quartet for a New Beginning was premiered in January and performed again at the memorial 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 and released the first commercial CD of my music, Ananda Dances, with five compositions. Also, Eric and Fred Raimi performed the 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. With my new job, I moved into a two-bedroom apartment and bought a baby grand piano.

In November and December, I was very sick with bronchitis. This had life-changing effects, although I had no clue at the time.

Wrote Autobillography from January 1--July 22. Big recital at Duke on February 22 with premieres of Aditya Hridayam for oboe, violin, 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.
             Started teaching a distance-education version of College Physics (PY 211.601) and designed the second semester (PY 212.601) to be offered next year.

2012Added PY 212.601 for the spring semester. February; concert (the third annual!) at Duke, featuring Grand Serenade for clarinet, cello, and piano; Ananda Sonata for violin and piano; and Clarinet Sextet for clarinet and strings. Then in October came the premiere of Mantra Cantata with Rodney Wynkoop and the Chamber Choir of the Choral Society of Durham, with a string orchestra led by the Ciompi Quartet plus piano.

2013January I ended up in the ER with kidney stones; I'd had them before but didn't know what they were. February had the fourth annual all-Robinson concert, this time at Meredith College. This featured Goldbug Variations for either harpsichord or piano, songs for baritone and piano(s), and Ananda Dances for string quartet. In June I visited Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. for the 40th reunion of my class of '73. (I have scanned my yearbook and you can see it linked just above this biographical sketch.) I was very ill with bronchitis during the trip, and really should have gone to the hospital. When I got home, my apartment had been broken into, with TV, laptop, and all cash on hand taken. The two burglars had been quite active in the area, and after about six more heists, were collard. One got ten years federal prison time.

2014February had the fifth annual all-Robinson concert, again at Meredith College.  We had the Chamber Concerto in its  chamber version for  piano quintet; Robinsongs, written for  Rebecca, Joseph, and Mary-Kay Robinson; Art of the Violin, for four  violins; and the chamber version of  Birthday Symphony, for  violin, clarinet, cello, and piano.
       In late May, after school let out, I got in the car and drove to visit my uncle and aunt in Nashville TN. From there I went to my hometown of Denton, then San Antonio, and on to Houston. There I had a great reunion with old Denton friends, staying at the home of Fred Robinson (no relation), composer/arranger/sax player I met at NTSU in 1974. Good thing I did, as while we kept in touch over the phone, that was our last meeting. He passed away in January 2018. From there to an ISKCON farm/ashram in Mississippi, to friends in Florida, and then home. 

2015In January, Eric Pritchard and Greg McCallum performed Three Pieces for Violin and Piano at Duke. Greg died in February of 2016, and this recording was broadcast on WCPE in his memory. I rewrote the last movement of the Birthday Symphony. The Meredith Sinfonietta with soloist Xi Yang performed Diatonic Phrygian Tetrachord for violin and orchestra at Meredith College. The Triangle Youth Philharmonic asked me to write a piece for orchestra minus strings for a festival celebrating Don Quiote; the result was Tilting at Windmills, performed in November.

2016In January, the Durham Symphony played the new last movement of the Birthday Symphony at their MLK annual program. This was followed in February by the Raleigh Symphony performing the whole piece. In March, the Ciompi Quartet, joined by two NC Symphony hornists and a bassist, performed E Pluribus Unum at the NC Museum of Art.
      In April, I learned that the next school year would likely be my last teaching at NCSU. There followed a mad scramble to try and find a place to live that I could afford while retired on SSI. This spring, with all this stress, I found it difficult to breathe; the bronchitis I'd had off and on since 2010 was all the time now. Finally I went to a pulmonologist in June, and was diagnosed with COPD. I will have to struggle with this for the rest of my life. In August, a generous friend in Cleveland NC, where I had lived in 1988-91, offered a couple of rooms in his home for very modest rent, but it would take time to fix it up.
      Also in August I ended up in the hospital for four days with two kidney stones and pneumonia. All this stress and illness, with depression, kept me from any composition for at least six months. I sold my baby grand piano, and got a roommate from India for my spare bedroom.
      In September, Bonnie Thron with two pianists performed the chamber version of my Cello Concerto that I wrote for her three times, at ECU, UNCG, and Duke.

2017In March, Bonnie Thron, with pianist Carl Banner, performed Gayatri Sonata in Washington DC., as part of the series of concerts given by Washington Musica Viva.
    The school year ended on May 15, and on May 17 I moved 140 miles west to Cleveland NC, as I needed a nearly free place to live while waiting for subsidised senior housing in or near Raleigh. With the new environment, and adjusted medications, I had better health, both mental and physical, and was able to start composing again, albeit on my (good quality) electric piano. I tried valiantly to play a new 6-string electric violin, much like I did back in 2002-3, but even with cortisone injections, my shoulder was too painful, and I had to give it up. Composed From God's Back 40 for clarinet, viola, and piano, and started Violin Concerto No. 2 for Eric Pritchard.

2018Finished Violin Concerto No. 2. Bonnie Thron performed the Cello Concerto with the East Carolina Symphony in March. After writing a quartet for cellos in the summer, I stopped composing. Getting old.

2019In March, I had three concerts; Eric Pritchard performed the chamber version of the violin concerto with two pianists at Duke. We did From God's Back 40 in Washington DC, and then I had a concert of my music at Meredith College in Raleigh. Moved in April to Chadwick Apartments in Garner NC, very good senior housing I can afford on SSI. Still haven't been able to get back into composing.

2020Completed the Second Edition of the Autobillography. (The audio book is still the First Edition.)