Tōru Takemitsu (1930–1996) was a Japanese composer and writer on aesthetics and music theory. Takemitsu is recognised for his skill in the subtle manipulation of instrumental and orchestral timbre, drawing from a wide range of influences, including jazz, popular music, avant-garde procedures and traditional Japanese music, in a harmonic idiom largely derived from the music of Claude Debussy and Olivier Messiaen. In 1958, the international attention he drew with his Requiem for strings (1957) resulted in several commissions from across the world, and settled his reputation as the leading Japanese composer of the 20th century. He was the recipient of numerous awards, commissions and honours, and as well as his many concert works, he composed over one hundred film scores and about one hundred and thirty concert works for ensembles of various sizes and combinations. He also found time to write a detective novel, and appeared frequently on Japanese television as a celebrity chef.

Takemitsu’s sensitivity to instrumental and orchestral timbre can be heard throughout his work, and is often made apparent by the unusual instrumental combinations he specified. This is evident in works such as November Steps, that combine traditional Japanese instruments, shakuhachi and biwa, with a conventional Western orchestra. It may also be discerned in his works such as the Quotation of Dream (1991), Archipelago S., for twenty one players (1993), and Arc I & II (1963–66/1976), in which the more conventional orchestral forces are divided into unconventional “groups“.