Otto Joachim was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1910. He studied violin in Düsseldorf and Cologne.
He spent 15 years performing and teaching in the Far East, first in Singapore and then in Shanghai. In 1949, Joachim settled in Montreal, and from 1952 to 1965 he played viola in the Montreal Symphony.
During the mid-1960 Joachim gave up most of his performing and teaching activities, and he has since concentrated his energies on composition.
His works embrace serial as well as aleatoric techniques, electronics, mixed media and theatrical elements.