Tôn-Thât Tiêt is a Vietnamese composer who was born in Hué, the former imperial city of Vietnam, on 18th October 1933. He completed his secondary studies while living there, as well as embarking on his musical apprenticeship. In 1958 he goes to Paris in order to further his knowledge and understanding of music. After following courses in harmony and counterpoint at the Ecole Normale de Musique he is admitted at the CNSM in Paris, to study counterpoint, fugue and composition. He is encouraged by his composition teachers Jean Rivier and André Jolivet and gradually creates his own style, a balance between two very different cultures: Western composition following the post-webern school, as well as the colour, philosopihy and time conception of the Orient.His works contain two main themes: Man and Mankind, from Chinese humanism, and Man and the Universe, through the vector of Chinese philosophy, namely the Five Elements, Hinduism and Buddhism. In his music he also tries to revive traditional Vietnamese music, particularly of a sacred nature, that of the Court in Hué and the Ca Tru, the music of Northern Vietnam.
As an avid reader, Tôn-Thât Tiêt is imbued with the works of the Chinese philosopher Tchouang-Tseu and the 8th century poets Li Po, Tou Fou and Wang Wei, with the impress of Taoism and Buddhism, and pursues the dream of a close relationship with nature.