Diko Iliev was born in 1898, village of Karlukovo, Lukovit district. At very young age he fell in love with the music that’s why, at his 13th year of age in 1911, his parents signed him in the Orhanie’s Military Brass Orchestra to study music. At his 14th year Diko Iliev took the path of the already started Balkan War, and right after that he fought in World War I. As a member of 16th Lovech regiment’s brass bend, part of 1st Bulgarian Army, he fought on the Serets Front battle field. During that time he managed to create his first composition “Iskarsko horo”.
After the end WWI Diko Iliev returned home and in 1919, after successfully passed exams, he became a part of the Military School’s brass band, Sofia, which was a part of the Sofia Peoples Opera, a combined symphony orchestra, along with the Gurads’ brass band. He played 1st trombone.
In 1920, already married, the young musician returned to his birthplace. This was the time when the composer began to spread and popularize brass music among the people. He initiated and mentored brass bands in the villages Bukiovtzi, Selanovtzi and Komarevo.
In 1931 in Oriahovo had been created military brass band in which Diko Iliev played baritone. Actually, that was the beginning of his most creative period. During that time were composed the horos “Zig-zag”, Selski vazdishki”, “Maiski tzvetia”, “Probuzhdane na proletta”, “Varnensko horo” and “Nasha radost”.
Between 1936 and 1938, Diko Iliev played baritone in the Military brass bend of Sofia. After that he returned in Oriahovo again, where he was assigned in Kozlodui’s regiment as a soprano cornet. During that period, he wrote the horos “Oriahovski unak”, Maisko utro”, “Nasheto Lenche” and many others.
The communist’s coup in 1944 finds Diko Iliev as a serviceman in 36th Kozlodui’s regiment, being a part of which he fought during the Fatherland War’s first stage. Under temporary assignment as a conductor at the Military brass band of Oriahovo, Diko Iliev put the foundation and managed the Musicians’ Professional Association in Oriahovo District, and created 19 professional musicians’ groups in the region. Along with his mentor role he continued to compose – horos “Krashen venetz”, Latinino horo”, the marches “Katusha”, “Mladezhka kletva”, and ”Sliventzi pri Drava”.
In 1947, Diko Iliev was promoted to officer and appointed conductor of the Military brass bend of Oriahovo. During this very period he wrote his best compositions – rhapsody “Tantzat na zhetvarkite”, “Veseloto Stanche” and “Spomeni” horos. In the beginning of ‘50s, Diko Iliev composed the everlasting “Dunavsko horo” which is the greatest horo ever created.
For almost a half century of music compositions and activities, Diko Iliev has created more than 40 horos of different styles and rhythms, 15 marches, 5 folk bouquets, tens of waltzes, tangos, rumbas, children’s songs and many others, all of them received love and recognition by the Bulgarian people.
The Diko Iliev’s work has the destiny to be an everlasting part of the Bulgarian folk music. In the last few years of his life, Diko Iliev lived in Mihailovgrad (today Montana), where in 1984 passed away. The name and the work of this great Bulgarian composer will live forever in people’s hearts.