After Sweelinck, Ton de Leeuw might be the most influential composer of the Netherlands. Besides composer, he was also a creative thinker, teacher and author with an open view of the world. De Leeuw studied under Henk Badings and Olivier Messiaen. While De Leeuw did introduce both serialism and electronic music to the Netherlands, due to his connection Jaap Kunst and his ethnomusicological studies he soon got interested in musical cultures outside of Europe, as can be heard in his Drie Afrikaanse Studies (Three African Studies) and his Mouvements Retrogrades. Especially his journeys to India and Japan in the 60s were important for his development as a composer. He discovered that in the western musical tradition an important core value was lost: the ethic form of making music and listening. De Leeuw sought a balance between western composition techniques and eastern philosophies. A balance he found by making use of modality as one of the sources of both western and eastern music traditions.
In works such as Résonances (1985), Les Adieux (1988) and Three Shakespeare Songs (1995) his composition technique truly flourishes. Among his students were Joep Straesser, Tristan Keuris, Guus Janssen and Daan Manneke.