Peter Dickinson

English composer, pianist, writer and broadcaster Peter Dickinson was born in Lytham St Annes on 15 November 1934. He was organ scholar at Queen's College Cambridge and then spent three years in New York, initially at the Juilliard School of Music, then as a critic and freelance performer. 

Many of Dickinson's compositions are involved with popular music or jazz. His Violin Concerto was commissioned by the BBC in memory of violinist Ralph Holmes.

Dickinson also had a twenty-five year performing partnership with his sister, the mezzo Meriel Dickinson, and together they commissioned a number of British composers.

His writing included books on Billy Mayerl, Aaron Copland, John Cage, Lord Berners and Lennox Berkeley. He was a regular contributor to BBC Radio 3 for over thirty years, and wrote for various outlets, including Gramophone and Music & Vision.

Academic appointments included lecturer at Fairleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey, USA, first chair at Keele University, first chair at Goldsmiths College and head of music at the Institute of United States Studies.

Peter Dickinson (1934-2023)
Peter Dickinson (1934-2023)


Peter Dickinson lived in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. He died on 16 June 2023, aged eighty-eight.


Articles by Peter Dickinson

A return visit to London by the Verdehr Trio

Opera East on tour with Lennox Berkeley's 'A Dinner Engagement' and Holst's 'The Wandering Scholar' - Peter Dickinson reports

Wilfrid Mellers at ninety - an appreciation

Some personal reflections on the Lennox Berkeley Centenary

Music by Charles Ives played by Philip Mead. '... Mead's technique is consistently impressive.'

A new British CD of American string quartets. '... this performance is superb advocacy.'

Peter Dickinson reviews two books on American music

Peter Dickinson reads Steven Moore Whiting's 'Satie, the Bohemian: from Cabaret to Concert Hall'

Continuously fascinating. The music of Gordon Crosse

Gershwin arrangements - Peter Dickinson listens to Michael Finnissy as arranger

Equinox. '... repertoire not otherwise available - with considerable compositional ingenuity and in a way which is appreciated by performers.' Peter Dickinson listens to the music of Elliott Schwartz.

Reconstructing the image - Peter Dickinson listens to world première recordings of music by Constant Lambert

Rain Waves - Peter Dickinson reviews concertos by Bond, Ott and Tower

The Shellwood Series - Peter Dickinson shares his enthusiasm for a new record label based on historical popular music

Peter Dickinson writes about Thompson's career

Music for three: Piano trios

Peter Dickinson on Elliott Carter

writing with the hope of instant success for Music & Vision

Articles about Peter Dickinson

Classical music news - June 2023 Obituaries - Our summary of those the classical music world has lost this month

CD Spotlight. Benjamin Britten and James Joyce - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to two sets of English folk and other songs. '... very good listening ...'

CD Spotlight. Hidden Secrets - Gerald Fenech listens to twentieth century British piano music played by Nathan Williamson. '... brought to light with the utmost conviction.'

CD Spotlight. Superbly Enjoyable - Early chamber music by Peter Dickinson impresses Malcolm Miller. '... a welcome addition to a select repertoire is Dickinson's Four Duos for flute and cello, brightly played here by Rosanna Ter-Berg and Lydia Hillerudh ...'

Ensemble. A Musical Polymath - Peter Dickinson's eightieth birthday concert, enjoyed by Malcolm Miller

CD Spotlight. Likeable Discs - Music for cello and piano, heard by Howard Smith. '... affectionately presented throughout.'

CD Spotlight. Very Searching - Peter Dickinson's 'The Judas Tree', heard by Robert Anderson. '... a notable performance ...'

Ensemble. A Generous Weekend - The third William Alwyn Festival, attended by Patric Standford

CD Spotlight. Quite Splendid - American vocal and symphonic music, heard by Bill Newman. '... much enjoyment and interest ...'

CD Spotlight. Uniquely English - A tribute to violinist Ralph Holmes, heard by Howard Smith. '... an invigorating spontaneity ...'

A Real Treasure House - Dialogues with and about John Cage, reviewed by Patric Standford

Record Box. Gentle and Meditative - Music by Peter Dickinson, reviewed by Patric Standford

Classical objectivity? - Peter Dale reads 'The Music of Lennox Berkeley' by Peter Dickinson

Simple gifts? - David Thompson is impressed by 'Copland Connotations - Studies and Interviews'

CD Spotlight. Playing hypocritically - Eric Satie's piano music, surveyed by Brian Howes. '... all played straight and cleanly, as I expect Satie would have wished.'

CD Spotlight - From rags to riches. '... clear purpose and technical prowess.' Peter Dickinson's music, with Basil Ramsey