He studied violin, viola and piano as a child, and studied composition at the University of Washington, receiving a Bachelor of Medicine and teaching certificate in 1933. In 1934 he moved to New York City where he studied with Hanns Eisler and Aaron Copland.
In addition, he wrote many popular songs and music for Hollywood films. In the 1940s he worked on film scores in Hollywood until he was blacklisted for being a Communist. Unable to work in Hollywood, he moved back to New York, where he headed the music program at Elisabeth Irwin High School, directing the orchestra and chorus.
Robinson is remembered for his music, including the songs "Joe Hill", "Black and White", and the cantata "Ballad for Americans," which expressed his left-leaning political views.
Member Authors League, Screen Actors Guild, Dramatists Guild, American Fedn.Musicians, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (Gold Record 1976), Song Writers Guild.
Married Helen Wortis, February 17, 1937 (deceased June 1963). Children: Perry Morris, James. Married Ruth Martin, May 5, 1965 (divorced 1975).