Born in Tokyo, Takemitsu became interested in Western classical music in the period of the Second World War. He had the opportunity to hear Western music on American military radio while he was recovering from a long illness. He also cultivated the knowledge and listening of jazz music, thanks to his father’s remarkable record collection.
In his musical training, Takemitsu was almost totally self-taught; he suffered many influences from French music, especially from authors such as Claude Debussy and Olivier Messiaen. In 1951 he founded “Jikken Kobo”, a group with which he introduced the music of many Western composers to Japan.
Takemitsu collected his first important success when his Requiem for string orchestra (1957) was heard and praised by Igor ‘Fëdorovič Stravinskij: it was the beginning of his great international career. In the early 60s he was influenced by the ideas of John Cage, whom he met in person in 1964: a large part of his production of aleatory music dates back to this period. He also befriends the multimedia artist and sculptor Paolo Carosone to whom he dedicates a chapter of his book “Oto to Chinmoku to Hakari aeru hodo ni” (Sound and silence in comparison).
In 1984 the first performance in the Concert Hall of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham took place of “Through the Rainbow, Palma” for guitar, love oboe and orchestra of his composition directed by Simon Rattle. Takemitsu died prematurely in Tokyo on February 20, 1996, of cancer; in the autumn of that same year he was posthumously awarded the Glenn Gould Prize. During his life he had received several awards, including, twice, the “Otaka Prize”.