About Oscar van Dillen

Oscar van Dillen

Oscar van Dillen

Oscar van Dillen (‘s-Hertogenbosch 1958) has studied a wide variety of musical traditions with many renowned teachers. Van Dillen is composer and performer of music (composer, flutist and conductor), Professor of Music at Codarts University for the Arts in Rotterdam, as well as visual artist. A polyglot and an erudite world citizen, he is also one of the pioneers from the early years of Wikipedia, having been founding president of Wikimedia Nederland and a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation Inc.

Concise biography

His music education having started at the age of 7, and performing both classical and rock music in his youth, van Dillen first studied North-Indian classical music from 1977 to 1980 (sitar, tabla, vocal) with Jamaluddin Bhartiya at the Tritantri School in Amsterdam and bansuri with Gurbachan Singh Sachdev at the Bansuri School of Music in Berkeley, California. Next he studied classical and jazz flute at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam between 1982 and 1984. Here, he also received composition lessons from Misha Mengelberg. As a flutist, he was taught by Lens Derogée and Dieks Visser, and followed masterclasses from Pierre-Yves Artaud, Geoffrey Gilbert and Barthold Kuijken.

After parttime studies of medieval and Renaissance music with Paul Van Nevel in Leuven (Belgium) between 1985 and 1989, he studied classical and contemporary composition fulltime with, among others, Dick Raaymakers, Diderik Wagenaar and Gilius van Bergeijk at the Koninklijk Conservatory in The Hague in 1990-91, with Klaas de Vries, Peter-Jan Wagemans and René Uijlenhoet at the Rotterdam Conservatory from 1996 to 2002 and with Manfred Trojahn at the Robert Schumann College in Düsseldorf in 2001, where he also received lessons in conducting from Lutz Herbig. As a composer he furthermore followed masterclasses from, among others, Isang Yun, George Crumb, Jan van Vlijmen, Marek Stachowski, Zbigniew Bojarski and Gerard Brophy.oscar-van-dillen-2013

Van Dillen is a founding member of the Rotterdam School of composers, and professor of music at the Codarts University of the Arts Rotterdam since 1997. There he teaches composing, arranging, world music composition, music history and music theory in the Jazz-, Pop- and World music, the Classical music and Music Education Academies.

Oscar van Dillen is the inventor of original world music composition, combining strictly composed with improvised classical and folk traditions, and their techniques and mentalities for creating music: a new and contemporary form of art music. He is also founder, composer and artistic director of the Olduvai Ensemble for which he especially creates original world music compositions.

Oscar van Dillen is a member of Nieuw Geneco and the Dutch-Flemish Society for Music Theory.

Next to his fulltime work as composer, musician and pedagogue, van Dillen is also a writer and parttime visual artist. A selection of his works is presented on this website. He has been a regular member of various jurys, among which the yearly composition prize jurys, in the Val Tidone Festival Competitions, since 2013.

Van Dillen also is a part-time professional visual artist, which is also documented in part on this website, see Visual Art.

Finally, here is van Dillen’s tentative tree of musical knowledge, of teachers of the teachers of his teachers:


  • The secret of true art is intelligent selection.
  • All art creates content.
  • Free education means: constitutionally safeguarded against politics and business.
  • Music is sound and silence, performed by musicians.
  • Music consists of what a human needs: sound, silence, time, space, and freedom to assign meaning.
  • I consider music to be primarily a real time-art as well as a real-time art, intended to allow listeners to participate live in the creation, as co-perceivers, satisfying three basic human “instincts”: wonder, inquisitiveness and a sense of delight.
  • Curiosity is an essential human instinct, needed for more than just survival.
  • There is beauty in utter uselessness; when beauty itself becomes useful, we call it art. (beautiful uselessness makes a gadget)
  • The only stuff we see is light itself, it’s the mind that creates awareness of objects: subjectivity objectifies.
  • The only stuff we hear is sound itself, it’s the mind that creates awareness of music: subjectivity objectifies.

External links to Oscar van Dillen

in 1963 as a child, with his father, G.T. Rietveld, Mrs. Schroeder and B. Mulder