Diko Iliev was born on 15.02.1898 (old style) in the village of Karlukovo, District of Lukovit. He is a curious and impressionable child, but because his family is poor, manages to finish only the fourth grade. His love of music is revealed early, which is why when he is only 13, in 1911, his parents send him to study music at the military brass orchestra in Oriahovo. Advancing exceptionally fast in his studies, on the fifth month of his acceptance he is included in the orchestra, and on the 11th month makes his first attempts at composing.
The Balkan War starts, and Diko, only 14 years old, joins the Bulgarian army, inseparable from his flugelhorn. During World War I he fights in the ranks of 16th Lovech regiment in the composition of I Bulgarian Army and takes part in the battles on the Seret front. It is there, at the time of fraternization of Bulgarian and Russian troops, that he composes the Iskar Horo, his first attempt at composing, which specialists appreciate highly.
After the war he returns to his native village, where he fails to earn his family's living cultivating his father's plot of land of only 6 acres. In 1919, tempted by the advertisement in the media that the Military school is seeking musicians, he goes to the capital. Passing successfully the entrance exams, he is recruited at the orchestra of the Military School, where he plays the baritone. At the same time this orchestra, together with the Guards' Band, constitutes the symphonic orchestra of Sofia National Opera, and Diko Iliev becomes first trombone in operatic performances like Carmen, LaTraviata, Il Trovatore. In 1920, already head of a family, he returns to his native region, together with his wife Anastasia, because he can hardly make ends meet. The young family settles in the village of Voivodovo, where Diko does not give up his precious flugelhorn. This is the time at which the composer undertakes the apostle's mission to popularize brass music among the local population, establishing bands in the villages of Bukyovtsi, Selanovtsi and Komarevo and lending them methodological guidance without receiving any funding. In the summer of 1931, when his daughter, Alexandriyka, is already 10 years old, Diko Iliev moves to Oriahovo together with his family. In the same year a military brass orchestra is established in the town, in which the composer plays the baritone. One of the most active periods of his professional life has started. Exceptionally beneficial for his professional development is the influence of conductor Alexandar Veyner. In 1932 the horo compositions "Mig-zag", "Peasants' Sighs", "May Flowers", "Spring Revival", "Oriahovo Idyll", "Varna Horo" and others appear. "Danube Horo" follows, the composition for which Bulgaria learns the name of Diko Iliev.
Iliev's first-born daughter, Alexandriyka, is sent to study at an agricultural school in Vidin, where she falls ill and dies In 1935. His whole grief and sorrow her father pours out in a horo he calls "Alexandriyka", one of his best works. Afterwards a son is born to the family, called Iliya, after his grandfather. Then they have two daughters, both of whom die. In 1938 the fourth daughter is born, again called Alexandriyka, to diminish the grief for their first daughter.
From 1936 to 1938 Diko Iliev is a baritone player in Sofia Military Orchestra with bandmaster Ivan Kasabov. Then he again returns to Oriahovo, where he becomes headquarters trumpeter of 36th Kozlodui Regiment. He also plays in the garrison orchestra. Prolific years follow in which he composes “Oriahovo Hero", "May Morning", "Our Lenche", "Daichovo Horo", "Leap", "Village Feast", "Harvest Songs", "Straight Horo from Dobrudzha", "Daichovoto", "Ludo-Mlado", Elenino dances "By the Fountain" and "Wild Youth", Paidushko horo "People's Soul", Daichovo horo "The Merry Twins".
09. 09. 1944 finds Diko Iliev as an official in 36th Regiment, in whose ranks he participates in World War II. At the front he composes the musical bunch "People's Echo". In the first years following the war he works as a temporary commander of the military brass band in Oriahovo. It was then that he established the Oriahovo District Professional Musicians' Society and founds 19 professional musical groups in the district. Together with his active work as musical pedagogist of these orchestras, he continues creating original musical pieces, among which are Daichovo horo "Lively Wreath", "Katinino Horo", the marches "Katyusha, " Forward, Comrades", "Kozlodui People on 01 May", "Youth Vow", "Election Victory", "Sliven People at Drava".
In 1947 Oriahovo regiment is dismissed and Diko Iliev is sent to Sliven Garrison. Seven months later there is again a regiment in Oriahovo and Diko Iliev is back there. He is granted an officer’s rank and is appointed conductor of the military orchestra of the town. Active concert activity ensues with the military orchestra and the brass bands established by him in the surrounding villages as well as with children’s music groups working under his methodical guidance. In this period his most mature works appear – the rhapsody “The Female Harvesters’ Dance”, the straight dance “Memories”, the musical bunch “Echo from the Soviet Union”, “Eleno Mome”, “Dance, Gano”.
For 10 years Diko Iliev is conductor of Oriahovo garrison band. In the winter of 1957 he retires, but continues composing folk dances, marches and musical bunches. 42 whole years he lives in Oriahovo. On his 80th birthday the District Council of Culture in Vratsa, together with Central Administration at the Ministry of Defense organize an event in his honor at which the Order for Contribution to the Bulgarian Army and the title Honored Cultural Worker are conferred on him, and he becomes a member of the Union of Bulgarian Composers. On his 85th anniversary he receives the title Hero of the Socialist Labour. Diko Ilie dies on 30.11.1984, leaving 40 folk dances (hora), 15 marches, 5 bunches of folk pieces and a number of other musical works.