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 re-scored 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 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.