Born in West Springfield, Mass. Removed to Northampton, Mass., in 1867. Fitted for college in the Northampton High School. Studied music in Boston, 1871 to 1872, Entered Amherst College in 1872, and was graduated in 1876. Received the degree of M.A. from Amherst College. During his college course he was organist in the First Congregational Church of Springfield, Mass. Took up the study of the organ with Eugene Thayer in Boston, 1878 to 1879. In 1879 he became organist at the Park Church in Elmira, N. Y., and teacher of organ and piano in the city. Was director of music in the Elmira College 1883 to 1892. Studied in Berlin, Germany, 1885 to 1886, 1888 to 1889, and 1892 to 1893, giving chief attention to the history of music, hearing lectures of Professor Spitta in the Berlin University and taking private courses with Doctor Wilhelm Langhans. Was appointed to the chair of the History and Criticism of Music in Oberlin College and Conservatory in 1893. Author of Music in the History of the Western Church and The Study of the History of Music. These books have been very widely and fully recognized as of unique value. Concerning Music in the History of the Western Church the following appeared in The Outlook of New York: "To his evidently wide knowledge of the causes of church music in its many stages, and acquaintance with its historical environment, Professor Dickinson brings a broad and intelligent human sympathy. He shows critical fairness alike in his treatment of the Roman Catholic mass and the rise of Lutheran hymnody, of Anglican church music and Puritan psalmody in England and America." A review of The Study of the History of Music in The Nation of New York begins thus: "His book is certainly almost unique in its clearness of statement, and general usefulness; it is a marvel of condensed information." Mr. Ernst Newman, known as one of the very ablest of English musical critics, has this to say: " Mr. Dickinson has had the excellent idea of furnishing the musical student with a guide to the best literature in English upon the art. For Mr. Dickinson's general treatment of his subject one can have nothing but praise. His method is to take each stage in the development of music separately, characterize it in a short but highly concentrated chapter, and then give reference to the complete English literature upon the subject. His summaries are models of sound judgment and swift statement; not more than once or twice, perhaps, could one find fault with either their completeness in every essential point of their cool and catholic impartiality."
Mr. Dickinson's work at Oberlin has been of the highest type in its full mastery of the subjects taught and in its successful appeal to all classes of students. Sound musicianship, a wide and exact learning in fields of knowledge other than music, sensitiveness to the emotional message of music, together with a strong literary talent, and a genuine teaching gift, have combined to advance Mr. Dickinson to the very front rank of our present day musical scholars, critics and teachers.