The composer Rudi Martinus van Dijk was born in Culemborg, the Netherlands, on 27th of March 1932. He studied with Hendrik Andriessen and Leon Orthel at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague and first came to the fore as a composer at the age of 19 when his Sonatine for piano was performed at the International Gaudeamus Music Week. Van Dijk emigrated to Canada in 1953 and two years later became a pupil of the American composer Roy Harris. The Canada Council of Arts enabled Van Dijk to further his studies in Paris with Max Deutsch, a pupil of Schoenberg, while concluding his piano studies with Kendall Taylor in London. During the 1950s and 1960s Van Dijk on a regular basis wrote music for and performed as pianist for radio and television for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Between 1964 and 1966 Van Dijk was active at the BBC in London involved particularly in educational television programs broadcast in many corners of the world including Australia. In 1966 Rudi van Dijk was appointed teacher of composition and piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. From that moment onward teaching became a part of his music life. In 1972 he was appointed teacher of composition and orchestration at Indiana University (USA), and in that same year took a similar post at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. It was not until 1985 that Van Dijk returned to Europe and after spending a year in Spain writing music he became composer in residence at Dartington Hall in Devon (UK).
Van Dijk has created an impressive oeuvre. His music has become increasingly popular throughout England and Europe. His Concertante for flute, percussion, harp and string orchestra (1963) was first performed in the Netherlands in 1965 by Koos Verheul, solo flautist with The Hague Philarmonic Orchestra along with members of the Radio Chamber Orchestra, and since then the Concertante has been performed numerous times throughout Canada and the United States. One of the highlights of Van Dijk's vocal music is The Shadowmaker (1977) commissioned and sung by the famous baritone Victor Braun in a performance with The Toronto Symphony under the baton of Mario Bernardi. Rudi van Dijk and Victor Braun's collaborations included concerts of music for voice and piano. September 1991 saw the Dutch premiere of the Violin Concerto (1984) at the Zeeuws Vlaanderen Festival with Polish-Dutch solo violinist Robert Szreder and the Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jan Stulen. The national premiere of the Four Epigrams from 1961 occurred in September of 1993 with The Hague Philarmonic conducted by Jac van Steen. The Piano Concerto completed in 1994 was premiered in May of 1996 to acclaim with Geoffrey Douglas Madge as soloist and the North Netherlands Philarmonic with conductor Viktor Liberman. Rudi van Dijk's music has drawn the attention of musicians and listeners in Great Britain.
Hyperion recording artists The Raphael Ensemble, commissioned and performed the Sextet in England in 1998 and his Sonata for Violin and Piano was performed in recital at the Wigmore Hall and broadcast on BBC3 with Anthony Marwood and pianist Aleksander Madzar. London's Angika Dance Company for which he wrote Triple Hymn for soprano, cello, mridangam, tam-tam and tubular bell and based on a mantra from the Vedic Literature, received a highly successful premiere at the prestigious Spring Loaded Festival 2000 in London with the well known American soprano Lucy Shelton. The Angika Dance Company has since toured England performing Triple Hymn. As part of the International Chamber Series 2001 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Hyperion recording artists the Florestan Trio performed the premiere of Van Dijk's Piano Trio. 2003 saw the premiere in Germany of Rudi van Dijk's final work "Kreiten's Pass", a monumental piece of music for baritone, orchestra and full choir. See the article by Maarten Brandt "The Whip".