Rob 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. Sean introduced Rob to Mick Doherty when he was twelve and it changed his life. Mick hailed from a long line of travelling fiddle players, storytellers and tinsmiths from Donegal. His Uncle Johnny Doherty was an iconic fiddler and featured in Ireland’s RTE documentary The Fiddler On The Road.
At seventeen Rob travelled to Ireland where he spent fourteen years on the West coast immersing himself in the music of the older players. 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. Andy Davey, master of the Sligo style of fiddle playing, became the most musical man Robert ever met and his mentor for ten years. Robert’s other musical influences include Paddy Fahey, Andy Mgann, Tommy Potts, Michael Coleman, Lad O'Bourne, Ally Bain and Johnny Doherty.
Over the years Robert has developed a large repertoire of slow airs, jigs, reels, strathpeys, highlands, and original compositions. In the year 2012 Mick Doherty and Rob released their album Out West to preserve the musical legacy of Mick's family, in particular, previously unheard versions of tunes handed down by Mick's father Hughie and grandfather Mickey Mor. This album was produced by The National Library of Australia and launched at Fairbridge Festival when Mick was 88 years old. Rob released his debut album The Day Dawn in 2018. Robert has toured in Europe and America and in the year 2000, he won Ireland's Michael Coleman Traditional Fiddle Player of the Year Award.
Robert also taught music for three years at the Galway School of Traditional Irish Music and has continued to teach ever since.
"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.“
- Rob Zielinski