Oscar van Dillen was born in 's-Herzogenbosch. 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.
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 and music theory in the Jazz-, Pop- and World music, the Classical music and Music Education Academies. At Codarts Rotterdam he is also Programme coordinator Music theory for Codarts Music.
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. Among the books he is presently writing are Outline of music theory, Prepositional analysis and Perception of music. Next to his fulltime work as musician and pedagogue, van Dillen is also a writer and parttime visual artist. A selection of his works is presented on this website. Van Dillen also is a part-time professional visual artist.