Flutist – Composer – Improvisor – Author – Teacher – Inventor
“A flutist whose technical resources and imagination seem limitless.”
— New York Times
“Dick held the audience in rapt attention with his spellbinding virtuosity”
— Washington Post
“There are few musicians that are truly revolutionary. Robert Dick is one of them.”
— Bill Shoemaker, JazzTimes
— Dizzy Gillespie
UNIVERSALLY REGARDED AS THE LEADER IN MUSIC FOR THE FLUTE IN OUR TIME
World renowned as the leader in contemporary music for flute, Robert Dick embodies the ideal of the Renaissance artist. With equally deep roots in classical music old and new and in free improvisation and new jazz, he has established himself as an artist who has not only mastered, but redefined the instrument. In 2014, the National Flute Association honored Robert Dick with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Robert Dick has utterly dispensed with preconceptions about what a flutist should sound like and what a flutist should play. More than any flutist ever, Dick has reshaped the musical possibilities of the instrument, creating many thousands of new sonorities. Since he began composing and improvising in the 1970s, he has pursued the core idea that acoustic instruments are capable of sonic vocabularies and musical expression extending far beyond their traditional sonorities and musical roles. Robert’s music carries this vision of continuous transformation into his approach to aesthetics and style. He draws from the jazz tradition, world musics (especially Indian and African), electric and electronic music and natural sounds. Hallmarks of his work are clarity of structure and vivid timbre. His compositions, striking in the intensity and originality of their emotion, structures and sound, have been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA Composers Fellowships and very many grants and commissions.
BOOKS, MUSIC, RECORDINGS AND VIDEOS
Robert has recorded extensively, making solo music and working with many of the world’s finest improvisors. Please visit his shop on this website to view and purchase his CDs as well as his books, music and instructional recordings on both CD and DVD.
Dick has had a major impact on flute playing everywhere through his pedagogy, including countless masterclasses throughout the Americas, Europe, Australia and Asia, the seminal books The Other Flute, Tone Development through Extended Techniques and Circular Breathing for the Flutist plus two volumes of the etudes Flying Lessons. Instructional CDs and DVDs and his series of instructional videos on YouTube illuminate his ideas and music and empower other flutists to transform their playing. It is a rare composition for flute written anywhere in the world today that does not bear Robert Dick’s influence.
THE GLISSANDO HEADJOINT
For the past quarter century, Dick has been contributing to the evolution of the flute itself. He is inventor of the Glissando Headjoint®, which telescopes to do for the flute what the “whammy bar” does for the electric guitar. Eastman Musical Instruments, the parent company of Haynes Flutes makes the Glissando Headjoint® under Robert Dick’s name. In 2016, Eastman will introduce the Robert Dick Model flute, a step-up instrument that will have both a Glissando Headjoint® and a regular headjoint in its special case.
You can order a Glissando Headjoint® directly through this site!
Robert Dick teaches flute and coaches improvisation and chamber music at NYU. He is also on the faculty of the City University of New York Graduate Center, teaching both flute and composition. Dick maintains an active private teaching studio, which includes working with flutists the world over using Skype. In Fall 2015, the annual Robert Dick Residential Studio in New York began with seven students from the UK, Australia, Canada and the USA. Students in the Studio study with Mr. Dick for two full days each week from September through December, going into depth in contemporary techniques and repertoire, including improvisation and composition.
“I knew the flute was for me from the first moments I played.”
Robert Dick was born and raised in New York City. He began playing the flute as a child, having heard it (well, the piccolo actually) on the radio in the Top 40 hit Rockin’ Robin. HIs parent’s responded to his incessant campaigning for a flute by surprising him with a flute and flute teacher after school in fourth grade. Robert gave his first concert that very day! Setting up chairs for his parents as soon as his father came home from work, he excitedly playing page 1 of the Rubank Elementary Flute Method — and he’s never looked back.
Robert’s main flute teachers were Henry Zlotnik, James Pappoutsakis, Julius Baker and Thomas Nyfenger. As a teenager, Robert thought that he’d become an orchestral flutist and he worked maniacally towards that goal, playing first flute in the Senior Orchestra at the High School of Music and Art and also the New York All-City High School Orchestra. But a summer at Tanglewood, playing in America’s finest student orchestra, showed him that he was not suited to the orchestral life and that he needed to develop himself as a soloist and musical creator.
Robert attended Yale College, where he received a B.A. degree. At Yale, he met Robert Morris, composer and theorist, who was to be a most important mentor. Robert wrote his first compositions and had his first experiences improvising while a Yale undergraduate. He began his first book THE OTHER FLUTE: A Performance Manual of Contemporary Techniques as an undergraduate senior project, completing the book in his first year of graduate study at the Yale School of Music where he received a Masters degree in composition, studying composition with Robert Morris and electronic music with Bulant Arel and Jacob Druckman. (Robert does not have a degree in flute playing.) THE OTHER FLUTE was originally published by Oxford University Press in 1975. While in graduate school, Robert composed his ground-breaking Afterlight, for flute alone, the first flute piece to use multiphonics as the primary building blocks of its musical language. Afterlight received a BMI Oliver Daniel Prize and has become a staple in the flute repertoire.
After leaving school, Robert embarked on his career as a concert soloist devoted to contemporary repertoire. His musical evolution lead him to devote himself to exclusively performing his original works and improvisations for many years. At present, Robert likes to invite “guest composers” to in his recital programming, most notably Paul Hindemith, Georg-Philip Telemann and Jimi Hendrix.
Yes, Jimi Hendrix. In his twenties, Robert’s world of music experienced its own Big Bang. He became a passionate, omnivorous listener to world music, to rock, to jazz, to electronic music — to all the music he could get his hands on. In this period, one musician’s influence outweighed all others, and that was Jimi Hendrix, the most inventive rock electric guitarist ever. Robert on Jimi: “Hendrix’s intensity and his unbelievable creativity inspired me totally. The sense that he could spontaneously make any sound he wanted, whether it had ever been played before or not, shook my world. I wanted to create a soundworld for the flute as extensive and as free as Hendrix’s guitar soundworld, and I wanted to do it acoustically, not with electronics. I felt that for the flute, the human playing could do what electronics did for the guitar sound.”
Robert has realized this vision in his own, unique way, doing more to transform the musical potential of the flute than any flutist before him.
The Commitment to Share and Educate
Early on, Robert decided that he wanted to share his discoveries with his fellow artists. This was his motivation for writing THE OTHER FLUTE, which quickly established itself worldwide as the resource for composers and performers to learn about the sonic capabilities of the flute. Because THE OTHER FLUTE was primarily written from the composer’s viewpoint, Robert went on to create an entire pedagogy for flutists. Beginning with Tone Development through Extended Techniques, he continued with Circular Breathing for the Flutist and the two volumes of FLYING LESSONS: Six Contemporary Concert Etudes.
In addition to the books and printed scores for his etudes and pieces, Robert has provided audio instruction for his etudes and compositions. On these CDs and DVDs, he plays the music, teaches it both interpretively and technically, and demonstrates the sound of every type of mistake and how to correct them.
Robert has also made a series of instructional videos that are available for the clicking on YouTube.
Expanding the Meaning of the Word “Flute”
Over the years, Robert has equaled his virtuosity on flute with his prowess on piccolo, alto flute, bass flute in C, bass flute in F and contrabass flute. By expanding his pitch and timbral range through these different instruments, the musical range of the flute is exponentially enlarged.
Robert has also invented the Glissando Headjoint®, the single most transformative addition to the flute since Louis Lot added open hole keys in the 19th century. For info on the Glissando Headjoint® and the option to purchase one, please click HERE.
ROBERT DICK’S PHILOSOPHY
Robert Dick believes in unlimited potential for growth. Personal growth, artistic growth, growth and change for our instrument. He intends to keep learning and improving for all of his life and does not feel that there will be a moment to say “I’ve arrived, its time to rest”. And he will keep doing what he loves — creating and sharing through performance and teaching.
What will he create next? Please watch this space!