Writings about Music

The Inspirational Merritt Butrick

Merritt Butrick

One of the most inspiring persons I've ever known was actor Merritt Butrick. We met at CalArts where he was an undergraduate theater student, and myself a graduate composition student.

During a time when I was having difficulty because my musical vision was very different from others, Merritt gave me a pep talk at Mom's, a cafe located in the student dorms next to the pool, that still inspires me to this day. I can picture his face and eyes in my mind's eye speaking to me, himself filled with an indomitable spirit and fearlessness, imploring me not to be deterred, but rather shake it off.

Merritt was the most renowned student on campus, and I was honored by how he perceived something special in me despite our being in different disciplines, expressing that insight and feeling both by what he said, and in his most deferential manner. With his superior intelligence and instincts, Merritt understood and appreciated me as opposed to others who appeared baffled, including finding my unconventional musical ideas confounding, as some still do to this day.

Hearing the tragic news of how Merritt had passed away in 1989 less than ten years after we met was terrible beyond belief. He never had the opportunity to fully realize what appeared to be limitless potential.

During that fortuitous talk we had, Merritt graced me with an essential part of his being and charged spirit, a blessing I cherish, and do my best to embody.

More detail about our friendship is included in Autobiography, originally published by electronicmusic.com.

- Michael Robinson, December 2021, Los Angeles


© 2021 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and musicologist. His 198 albums include 151 albums for meruvina and 47 albums of piano improvisations. He has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University Long Beach and Dominguez Hills.