Robin Underdahl

Robin Underdahl is coauthor with Anshel Brusilow of Shoot the Conductor: Too Close to Monteux, Szell, and Ormandy (UNT Press, 2015), whichreceived first place in the 2015 INDIEFAB book prizes (Music and Performing Arts) and in the 2014 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Contest (book manuscripts). Her fiction and memoir has appeared in Notre Dame ReviewColumbia, Coachella Review Upstreet, and other journals. Her novel The Hidden is currently on submission.

If Robin were to appear in an Empire waisted gown, carrying sheafs of paper and engaged in a lively conversation with a fellow bibliophile on the merits of Lord Byron’s poetry, she would not be out of place. There is something of a Jane Austen heroine about Robin. She can appear

delicate as a china cup, drawn to beauty like a butterfly seeking nectar, possessing a keen ear to the melody of words and music.  Words like erudite, scholarly, intellectual and literary come to mind when seeking to describe her. Robin was the perfect choice to co-write the life story of Anshel Brusilow, famed conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Professor of Music at both UNT and SMU. 

I have known Robin for more than a decade. She was part of the Salon that Bill Marvel, Drema Berkheimer and I formed years ago. We were privileged to have read the drafts of what was to become the award-winning memoir Shoot the Conductor

What has TWG meant to Robin? Since Robin and her family transferred to Dallas from the East Coast when her husband accepted a position as Professor of Aramaic Studies in Dallas, she had to find her place. Robin learned of The Garret through Arts and Letters Live at the Dallas Museum of Arts, the Writer’s Studio and by invitation from a friend to participate in Stone Soup.  Robin took classes taught by Erin Burdette and Robin Hemley. Her talents were apparent, so she was soon called upon to teach classes of her own.

TWG has meant friends, a literary community, a place to learn and to teach. The Writer’s Garret has been the springboard to writing and re-writing more than a few books for Robin. Bill Marvel  encouraged her to enter The Mayborn Conference Competition where she won First Place in the Manuscript section and publication through UNT Press for Shoot the Conductor.

What is remarkable to me is how Robin took the notes and random stories of a lifetime of a renowned musician and wove a beautiful book of near poetry out of what he shared. The stories are his, but the words are Robin’s. I share with you an excerpt, a reflection from Mr. Brusilow at the end of a contentious career:

Music won’t go away. It’s an antidote to the turmoil of the age, to all the anxieties we’re surrounded with, the materialism, the pragmatism. It quiets the fretting baby. It effervesces into dance. It opens the doors of grief and then soothes the mourning. Music can’t be stolen from you or devalued. It can be owned fully by millions of people at the same time. And you don’t have to know much about techniques to enjoy it. Some people go to a concert clutching scores and trying to catch the mistakes. Well, good luck to them. The expert in chord structure isn’t always the one who gets the most out of the highly evolved orchestral sound.