Experimental Turkish composer İlhan Usmanbaş was born in Istanbul on 23 October 1921 and grew up in Ayvalık. He taught himself to play the cello from the age of twelve and studied composition at Ankara State Conservatory with members of the Turkish Five. A UNESCO scholarship enabled him to travel to the USA in 1952, where he was influenced by pioneers of new and experimental music, including Milton Babbitt and Luigi Dallapiccola.
Usmanbaş' open form music uses aleatoric techniques, minimalism, neo-classicism and serialism, and concentrates on intensity rather than melody. His more than a hundred compositions have won various foreign awards and citations.