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.