Stephen Dickman, born in Chicago, began his musical studies at the age of 10 on the piano and trumpet. He received his B.A. in Music Composition and Theory in 1965 from Bard College where he studied with Jacob Druckman. While at Bard, Dickman began playing the cello, working with Louis Garcia-Renard. Also at Bard, Dickman worked with Emil Hauser studying musical phrasing on the trumpet.

Dickman received an MFA from Brandeis University (1968), which he attended on a fellowship, studying with Arthur Berger and Harold Shapero.

In 1967 he received the Samuel Wechsler Music Award. In 1968 and 1969 he received two BMI Student Composer Awards. Also in 1969 Colombia University awarded Dickman the Joseph H. Bearns Prize.

Following a fellowship to study with Ernst Krenek at the Berkshire Music Center, Tanglewood, MA (1968), he moved to New York City. There with playwright Richard Foreman, Dickman wrote his first opera, REAL MAGIC IN NEW YORK, a radically minimalist work which premiered at the Film-Makers Cinematheque in Soho in 1970.

After a New York Composer’s Forum at Carnegie Recital Hall, New York City, in 1971, he was awarded a Fulbright to study composition with Goffredo Petrassi at the Accademia di Santa Cecelia in Rome (1971-1972). There he also studied ‘cello with Giuseppe Selmi.

In 1973 Dickman was invited to Mumbai, India to study sarangi (a bowed Indian instrument) with Pandit Ram Narayan. He remained in Europe and Asia for four years. During his travels he wrote MUSICAL JOURNEYS, four volumes exploring primary musical ideas. This work led to his SONG CYCLE FOR THREE VIOLINS AND THREE SOPRANOS, settings of the poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi and Dickman(CRI 498). (see reviews)

Continuing his exploration of scale inspired by his study of Indian music, Dickman wrote THE WHEELS OF EZEKIEL (1985) for chamber orchestra and TREES AND OTHER INCLINATIONS (1983) for piano (OPUS ONE 140) and ORCHESTRA BY THE SEA (1983) for full orchestra.

1987 saw the beginning of a collaboration with librettist Gary Glickman on a new opera, TIBETAN DREAMS, based on the novel, The Power of Nothingness, by Alexandra David-Neel. In 1989 this work received the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist as Producer/New American Works Award. With the help of this grant the opera was completed and produced in New York City in October of 1990 at the Cunningham Dance Studio. (see review)

In 1998 Dickman was awarded both an American Composers Forum Commission and a Timeline Suffolk Decentralization Grant to set the poem of a Montauk Native American to music in celebration of the 350th Birthday Celebration of East Hampton.

New World Records (New World Records #80573-2) released an entire CD of Dickman’s music in November of 1999. This includes FOUR FOR TOM for baritone and piano, INDIAN WELLS for piano, RABBI NATHAN’S PRAYER for soprano and violin, THE MUSIC OF ERIC ZANN for baritone solo and WHO SAYS WORDS for baritone and cello. (see review)

Dickman was commissioned by Mutable Music (2000) to compose a chamber opera, GILGAMESH, scored for baritone, mezzo-soprano, violin, cello, flute and percussion. GILGAMESH was premiered at La Mama in New York City, June 2002. It has since been rescored for 2 mezzo-sopranos, 2 baritones, and 2 bass-baritones, with violin, cello, flute and percussion. (see review)

In June of 2019 a staged reading of Dickman’ s musical,THE VIOLIN MAKER (music, lyrics and story by Stephen Dickman with book by Patricia Noonan) was held at Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY.

In other activities, Dickman has been active in his community, producing concerts celebrating composers living in the East End of Long Island, presenting the music of Lucas Foss and Norman Dello Joio among others. He has also managed two music festivals: The Music Festival of the Hamptons and and Pianofest in the Hamptons. Dickman also initiated a yearly commissioning grant for composers to write a piece for 2 pianos to be performed at Pianofest in the Hamptons.





American Composers Forum Commission (350th Anniversary of East Hampton),
1998. Timeline Suffolk Decentralization Grant,
1998. Meet the Composer Fund Award,
1990, 1995 & 1996, 2002. SOS Grant/East End Arts Council &
NY Foundation for the Arts,’95,’98,’99,’02.
Meet the Composer/Composer in Residence, 1995.
NEA/Artist as Producer of New American Works Award, 1989.
CAP Award, 1987, 1990, 2002.
Fulbright Fellowship, Rome, 1971.
Composer’s Forum, New York City, 1970.
BMI Student Composer’s Award, 1968 & 1969.
Fellowship, Berkshire Music Center, 1968.
The Joseph H. Bearns Prize of Colombia University, 1968.
Fellowship, Bennington Composer’s Conference, 1967.
Samuel Wechsler Music Award, 1967.
Graduate Fellowship, Brandeis University, 1965-1968.







GILGAMESH, A CHAMBER OPERA Telling a Very Old Story, Tossing Pages to the Wind. “Melody hovers beneath the music at all times, breaking out in jewel-colored miniature episodes, particularly when the vibraphone chimes in silvery punctuation, or when the violin doubles a spoken voice.” By ANNE MIDGETTE, June 25, 2002, The New York Times

“WHO SAYS WORDS” (New World Records #80573-2) “Here’s a disc for fans of the cult pulp horror master H. P.Lovecraft. Composer Stephen Dickman’s specialty is to ‘set’ texts (poems, prayers, prose) by various authors into musical structures of his own design. In this case, the major work here is a performance of Lovecraft’s short story ‘The Music Of Eric Zann’ by baritone Thomas Bruckner (known for his work in Robert Ashley’s operas). … the mesmerizing rhythms of Bruckner’s narration begin to have a…disturbing effect. … it really starts to sound like Bruckner is losing his mind–the typical fate of all Lovecraft protagonists! Bizarre and ludicrous, perhaps, but pretty cool. The rest of the disc is great too, with one text-less piano piece of great beauty, as well as more singing by both Bruckner and soprano Elizabeth Farnum, of texts by Rumi, Milarepa, and Rabbi Nathan of Bratslav. These tracks feature either piano or violin accompaniment.” Aquarius Records New Arrivals #84 — February 1, 2000

TIBET, AN DREAMS, AN OPERA IN THREE ACTS Music: Stephen Dickman/Libretto: Gary Glickman “Dickman poses a challenge to the various modes that have dominated operatic composition in recent years. Unlike the Serialists, he gives the listener discernible melodies; unlike the Traditionalists, he presents melodies in scales of his own devising; and unlike the Minimalists, he takes seriously the relation of words to music. Dickman’s is not only a thoroughly original approach but one that suggests a path for others to follow.” Herbert Lindenberger, THE HISTORY IN LITERATURE: VALUE, GENRE, INSTITUTION Colombia University Press 1990.
TIBETAN DREAMS’ “score, which is lovely and rich, is filled with logically recurring leitmotifs and lush string textures, qualities that put the work as close as can be to Germanic tradition.” “Where the work charts its own path is in its musical language. Mr. Dickman has found a way to make East meet West.” Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, 22 October 1990

Composers Recordings, Inc. CRI SD 498 Three Songs for Three Sopranos and Three Violins, THE SONG OF THE REED (1975) Words: Jelalaldin Rumi; MY LOVE MAKES ME LONELY (1976) Words: Stephen Dickman; LOVE, THE HIEROPHANT (1976) Words: Jelalaldin Rumi. Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Fabian Sydnor and Nancy Young, sopranos; Benjamin Hudson, Joel Lester and Carol Zeavin, violinists; conducted by Arthur Weisberg.
“The overall effect is of a hypnotic ritual and exotic folk music, yet quite modern. Fresh and individual. A carefully composed work that pays close attention to fine detail. Highly recommended.” D.S., Fanfare Magazine, May/June 1984.
“Dickman’s fascinating, Asia-inspired settings of one his own poems and two by the thirteenth-century Persian poet/philosopher, Jalaul-Din Rumi. Dickman’s love songs weave melodies that superbly point up the interrelationships among Western antiphonal techniques, Asian idioms and what we in the eighties have come to call minimalism.” Karen Monson, Ovation Record Review, vol. 5, no. 12, January 1985.
“Fascinating even to repeated listenings. This is an impressive release that should be studied by serious singers.” Charles Shere, The Oakland Tribune, June 17, 1984.
“The first and third of the selections…a whirlwind of spinning melismas. The middle song, My Love Makes Me Lonely, is a setting of dovetailed voices and drone violin of one of the composer’s own poems, a haunting soliloquy that eloquently expresses not only the sadness but also the despair that so often accompanies a bout of unrequited love.” James Wierzbicki, Musical America, October 1984.
“It is hypnotic listening. One finds the ear following dimensions of sound other than traditional harmonic relationships and this is fascinating.” Disc Discussion, November/December 1984.