Margaret Robin Warren was born on June 16, 1950, while we were living at Jericho Hill. Peg had had two severe miscarriages since David was born seven years earlier. Robin spent her early childhood surrounded by us four family members with our strong interest in music and in farm animals, especially horses -- and, of course -- cats. To her, playing a musical instrument appeared to be a universal human trait as well as a practical activity of our family. At the age of three-and-a-half she was playing Christmas carols on a recorder with the rest of us in the family, and we serenaded the homes of several friends. She started with violin and harpsichord lessons in Stuttgart at the age of six, and indeed composed and wrote down two very simple musical pieces for the keyboard. I have recounted above some of her experiences in playing with us in orchestras, playing guitar and singing folk songs, and her continuous lessons on the violin.

Being the youngest, Robin was with us more while the other two children were away at Westtown or college. The other two had had a year in a German school, but Robin had two years while we were in Berlin. Much of what she learned she learned with a German vocabulary. For example, when we returned and she was going to high school in Harvard, Massachusetts, she looked up from her geometry homework and said to me, "Honey, what's an extension?" I replied, "It's a Verlängerung." "Oh!" she said, and went on with her work.

The following year, when we had moved to Tyngsboro and were playing in the Nashua Symphony Orchestra, she played the solo part in Mendelsohn's Violin Concerto. As mentioned above she was taking violin lessons at the New England Conservatory every Saturday. She gave a recital in the Gardner Museum Sunday program and performed Beethoven's Spring Sonata, with David Bartholomew as accompanist.

She went to Wellesley College and on graduation studied musicology post graduate at City University of New York. Part of her work was to do an extensive report on the music of some other culture. Instead of writing about the music of Indonesia or Somalia, she talked her professors into letting her go south to do her study on Appalachian folk music. This decision changed her life. She went to the famous Fiddler's Grove country music festival and had the good fortune of meeting some wonderful fiddlers who taught her about country music. They were amazed at her technical ability with the violin (fiddle, as they called it) and encouraged her to learn to play in country music style. Those good fiddlers have been her friends -- and Peg's and mine -- over the years.

Soon, she competed at the festival in the old time music category, and won that competition. She then had to compete with the winners of four other categories (one being Bluegrass) for the honor of being chosen Fiddler of the Festival. She was in touch with us by phone as she told us her surprise at winning the first stage, then as the competition went on until three in the morning, she told us breathlessly that she was Fiddler of the Festival. She could hardly believe it herself. It made quite a stir among country music fiddlers, especially since she was a female, and a Yankee at that!

Since then, she has been Fiddler of the Festival on two more occasions, and is no longer eligible to compete. In her new status as Master Fiddler, she entertains from the stage as one of the attractions of the festival.

In college, she developed a fondness for computers, and has for many years been making her living teaching new software to business executives and more recently making web sites for various industries and businesses.

Solo fiddlers are usually accompanied by guitar, and in the course of two decades or more she has played with dozens of guitarists. Finally, some three years ago, she started a group called Spirit Fiddle, and has been playing with guitarist Brian Clancey ever since. Spirit Fiddle has recorded two CDs and is in the process of making a third one. They perform professionally at least once a week at various locations, and their fame is spreading.

A few years ago, Robin wrote a letter to Peg, and it is here below, just as she wrote it:

6 May 1997

Hi Peg,

Happy Mother's Day!

I think you're a pretty exceptional mother, you know. You did all the normal, expected, motherly things, like making sure I wore boots and mittens, and not wanting me to go ice fishing when the ice is thin or trout fishing when it's rainy and cold. It must seem amazing to you that your youngest child is in her late 40s, and I know you worry about me still, even though I've been a responsible (!) adult for many years.

Women sometimes sit around and talk about being women and finding our way (cow sessions, we call them), and we talk about women who influenced us. I tell about a wonderful, creative, and intelligent woman who happens to be my mother. She lives gently on this earth, fixing, planting, arranging, propagating, healing, without great need for approval or acknowledgment. I'm very proud of you.

Growing up, I thought (and observed) that you could do absolutely anything. Just think of the list! It was pretty intimidating to a child! You spoke fluent German. You could grow anything at all, from the best garden, with food we could really eat, to fruit-bearing citrus trees grown indoors from seeds. You could break and train and ride and show horses. You cooked, made butter, cared for the animals, and mucked out the stalls. You made clothes and knit sweaters for all of us. You restored furniture, both the wood refinishing and the upholstery. You painted and wallpapered whole houses. You built stone walls and the stone terrace off the French doors in Tyngsboro. When I left graduate school, you built furniture into my van and made curtains for it. In the Jericho Hill house, you painted scenes from our childhood all through the upstairs, from David kitty to the swing on the big tree in the front yard.

One of your favorite things is learning languages for fun. I know you know German, French, Italian, and Latin. I also remember your learning Russian. And a bit of Urdu, Sanskrit, Yiddish, Romansch, and probably others. Complicated multi-color sweater instructions from Scandinavia? No problem for you! That is your favorite kind of puzzle.

The most amazing thing you've made for me is my violin. In all of my travels, I've never met another fiddler who plays a fiddle made by his or her mother. It's a beautiful and warm instrument, magical still after these many years, and it brings me great happiness to play it. I love to tell the story of how my fiddle came to be, and to play Mother's Waltz.

Do you remember all those Saturdays you drove me to Boston for violin lessons in high school? I can't imagine how boring that must have been for you, driving an hour each way, waiting around all day for lessons, string quartet, orchestra, and theory classes. I was pretty lucky to have you both put a priority on that kind of education, and lucky to have you there supporting and encouraging me. And then there were the concerts and recitals, the rehearsals for Actorsingers and the Nashua Symphony, and on and on.

Do you remember the time Honey was away for a week and you built all those bookcases into the upstairs hall in Tyngsboro? Not just straight bookcases, but room for paintings and lighting, and shelves of different depths, all professionally finished with molding and all painted before he returned? I think you did the same thing on the porch in the Pleasantville house. The porch where we sat all day watching the Kennedy Inauguration.

One time I wrote a report for school about French cathedrals, and you illustrated it by making pencil drawings of several of the cathedrals. They're little works of art. I still have them. I can't recall the report I wrote at all, but I can close my eyes and see those pictures. Unfortunately, I did not inherit your artistic talent.

Do you remember playing South Pacific and Desert Song and the other shows we played for Actorsingers? Steve Norris used to put lifesavers and mints on our music stands, and make us feel important. And we used to look cross-eyed at each other when we were bored, or bug our eyes out, or share some other private joke.

How about the time the lights went out all over the northeast, and I practiced by candlelight in the dining room? I think Honey was away on business that night, so we kept each other company in that big old New England colonial with its 8 fireplaces and wideboard wainscoting. Actually, that was the perfect house for sneaky candlelight, wasn't it?

Or the trip with Honey to Hawaii, just the 3 of us? You and I came back together and spent a day and a half in San Francisco, ending with (most of) the Sound of Music, the late flight to Chicago, and chocolate ice cream sodas in the airport at 5:30 in the morning.

So even though I'm too busy, and I don't get up to visit as often as I should, you continue to inspire me. I hope you know how important you are to me, and how much I love you.



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