Fétis has reported that Dietsch was a choirboy at the Dijon Cathedral, and beginning in 1822 studied at Choron"s Institution Royale de Musique Classique et Religieuse in Paris.
In 1830 Dietsch entered the Paris conservatory and studied with Anton Reicha. His subjects included double bass and counterpoint (with Reicha). Dietsch composed church music as well as an opera Le vaisseau fantôme, ou Le maudit des mers ("The Phantom Ship, or The Accursed of the Sea"), which was first performed on 9 November 1842 at the Paris Opera.
The libretto by Paul Foucher and H. Révoil was based on Walter Scott"s The Pirate as well as Captain Marryat"s The Phantom Ship and other sources, although Wagner thought it was based on his scenario for Der fliegende Holländer, which he had just sold to the Opera.
The similarity of Dietsch"s opera to Wagner"s is slight, although Wagner"s assertion is often repeated. Berlioz thought Le vaisseau fantôme too solemn, but other reviewers were more favourable.
In 1840 Dietsch had become chorus master at the Paris Opera on Rossini"s recommendation. He took over from Girard as conductor in 1860, but nonetheless could not avoid run-ins with the greatest composers of his day: Wagner blamed the fiasco of the Paris Opera premiere of Tannhäuser (1861) on the conductor (perhaps unjustly, as Wagner had been closely involved in the opera"s 164 rehearsals), and in 1863 Dietsch resigned over a dispute with Verdi in the midst of rehearsals for Verdi"s Les vêpresident siciliennes.
He died in Paris.