Born in 1933 in Kobe, Japan, Toshi Ichiyanagi studied composition with Kishio Hirao and John Cage, piano with Chieko Hara, Barnhard Weiser and Beveridge Webster. After attending the Julliard School of Music and the New School for Social Research in New York between 1954-60, he returned to Japan in 1961, and introduced many new musical concepts, including Cage's idea of indeterminacy, exerting a strong influence on the stream of the Japanese contemporary music.
As one of the leading composers in Japan, Ichiyanagi has composed in most genres of music: operas, orchestral, chamber and instrumental works. Among his major works are Violin Concerto "Circulating Scenery"(1983), Piano Concerto No.2 "Winter Portrait"(1987) and Opera "Momo"(1995, based on a novel by Michael Ende). While composing these large-scale pieces, he is also known for his compositions using Japanese traditional instruments such as sho and gagaku ensemble. Many of them have been performed throughout the world, especially by Tokyo International Music Ensemble where he serves as Artistic Director.
Ichiyanagi won the Elizabeth A. Coolidge Prize(1954) and the Serge Koussevitzky Prize(1956) during his studies in New York. Ever since, he has received numerous awards including the prestigious Nakajima Kenzo Award(1984), the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the French Government(1985) and Grand Prix of the Kyoto Music Award(1989). In 1990, he was awarded the Otaka Prize for the fourth time, for his unique symphony "Berlin Renshi".
His recent works include "Coexistence" for ondes martenot and orchestra (1996), Symphony No.5 "Time Perspective"(1997), "Coexistence" for orchestra (1997) and "Mirage" for shakuhachi and piano(1998).