Robert started playing the fiddle at age eight, learning to play by ear from his mentors Sean Doherty and later Mick Doherty (no relation) in Perth, Western Australia. Mick hailed from a long line of travelling fiddle players, storytellers and tinsmiths from Donegal, Ireland.
At seventeen, Robert moved to Ireland where he spent fourteen years on the West Coast immersing himself in the music of the older generation. There he played with, and was influenced by, musicians such as P.J and Martin Hayes, Paddy Canny, Martin Rochford, Francie Donnolly, Junior Creehan, Bobby Casey and Joe Ryan and Andy Davey, Andy, master of the Sligo style of fiddle playing, became his mentor for the following ten years.
When injury prevented him from playing, he returned to Australia and spent many years recovering: and rethinking his approach. With the help of his first Mentor Mick, he rebuilt his playing from the premise of doing less to achieve more. The old principles of the floating bow now made more sense and could be reapplied to all disciplines, drawing no distinction between making playing teaching and composing .
Robert has toured Europe and America and in 2000, won Ireland's Michael Coleman Traditional Fiddle Player of the Year Award. He also taught music for three years (2007-2010) at the Galway School of Traditional Irish Music and has continued to teach ever since. Since 2012 Robert has released two albums, and is on the cusp of releasing his third.
Robert Zielinski now resides in Torbay, a remote part of Western Australia near West Cape Howe. Here he divides his time between making violins, teaching, composing, touring, and fishing.
"The tunes are just like songs and have been continuously honed and worked until they are very beautiful things. There are many, many lives contained in what is on the surface a very simple jig or reel. There is celebration and exhilaration and pure Irish devilment in them. But there is also running through them many contradictory layers that can be very dark and painful. It’s as if the whole history of Ireland is contained in this music that cannot hide any part of it. For me music is the most honest language and it never ever lies.“
- Robert Zielinski