Born into a musical family, Pipkov received his first lessons from his father, Panayot Pipkov, entering the Sofia Music School in 1919. From 1926 to 1932 he studied at the Ecole Normale in Paris, where Dukas was his composition teacher. Returning to Bulgaria he became repetiteur, then chorus master and, from 1944 to 1948, director of the Sofia National Opera. Pipkov was a socially aware intellectual with a keen sense of the tragic and dramatic conflict. Having mastered the musical traditions of Western Europe, he reinterpreted the substance of folksong in the contemporary language and, influenced by Musorgsky's opera aesthetics, directed his efforts to solving the dichotomy between speech and music and the problems of musical dramaturgy.
In his best-known opera Yaninite devet bratya (1937), based on a folk ballad, Pipkov attempted exact musical rendering of the rhythmic and metric structure of the prosody of Bulgarian speech, which resulted in a recitative style of declamation. "Speech melody", song-like features and epic structure characterize the historical opera, Momchil (1948) based on a tale of the 14th century.
After the 1950s Pipkov extended his expressive range to include intimate philosophical contemplation and to deal with universal human situations within the framework of contemporary issues.
The opera Antigona 43 (1963), seeks to make philosophical and ethical generalizations in the context of the anti-fascist struggle. It is written in recitative-like style, and uses the chorus in the role of commentator.