The Japanese harpsichordist, Yoshio Watanabe, decided while sociology major at Hitotsubashi University, to become a professional harpsichordist, and took Michio Kobayashi as his teacher. Upon graduation from the university, he went to the Netherlands to study under Gustav Leonhardt at the Amsterdam Conservatory. He graduated from the conservatory in 1977, with a soloist's diploma, taking the highest honors and receiving the Prix d'Excellence.
Since returning to Japan in fall 1980, Yoshio Watanabe has been performing at numerous concerts to popularize harpsichord music. He was greatly stimulated and influenced, especially by Frans Bruggen with whom he performed just after his return to Japan, and Anner Bylsma with whom he performed in numerous occasions. In 1984, Watanabe established the Baroque Band, an orchestra of period instruments, with which he conducted major works for voices and orchestra to critical acclaim, including Monteverdi's L'Orfeo and Verpro della Beata Vergine, George Frideric Handel's Messiah, J.S. Bach's St. John Passion (BWV 245) etc. In 1989, Watanabe went on a nationwide fortepiano concert tour. Beside solo and ensemble performances, he has played Mozart's piano concertos and accompanied distinguished singers such as John Elwes, Max van Egmond and Christoph Prégardien, esploring new dimension in his performance. He also plays the clavichord, and is keen on popularizing this instrument.
While continuing to perform as a soloist, Yoshio Watanabe also teaches at Tokyo College of Music, Ueno Gakuen College, Toho Gakuen School of Music, and Kunitachi College of Music. He is a member of the J.C.S. Japanese Clavichord Society.
Yoshio Watanabe has recorded many compact discs, including "Pathetique on Fortepiano", "Bach: Italian Concerto and others", "Bach: 6 Partitas", "Improvising Mozart", "Schubert: Die schone Mullerin" (accompanying John Elwes, Tenor), "Bach: Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue and others", "Bach: Goldberg Variations", "Bach: Harpsichord Concertos vol I", "The 'Cembalo' - Its History and Music" vol. 1 and 2. He also writes thesis and articles occasionally, and published a new critical edition of Mozart's Fantasy and Sonata in C-Minor, KV475+457 in 1993 (Zen-On Music, Tokyo). In Autumn 2000, he published "Cembalo - Clavicordo - Fortepiano 1400-1800" (Tokyo Shoseki), a large-scale book with nearly 900 pages, containing comprehensive studies about stringed keyboard instruments and their history, relating with their makers, musicians and society. They book was a great success and was praised in reviews in various newspapers and magazines.